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Tom Rysinski: Pahrump Valley football season ends abruptly in playoff opener

What you are reading is my third version of what happened Friday night at Trojan Field.

The first was a straight game story, but details just aren’t that important when Moapa Valley takes Pahrump Valley to the woodshed in the form of a 35-0 shellacking that featured a running clock for the entire second half.

The second version tried to put the game in the context of Moapa Valley’s historical dominance in the rivalry, pointing out that while building a winning team can be a short process, building a winning program is a much more difficult one. But I’m smart enough to know that I could write the most brilliant story ever published about a loss and nobody would care, while I could mail in a routine story about a win and I would hear, “Hey! Great story this week,” about 11 times.

So we move on to Plan C, basically a print version of the Trojans Football Notebook normally posted online after every football game. Just tidbits from a night the home fans would rather forget, not that there were all that many people there to witness it.

In fact, let’s start there.

Fill the stands? Not lately

Last year, when Pahrump Valley turned a 1-3 start into a 6-3 regular season by going 5-0 in the Sunset League, the crowds were enthusiastic. The winning streak clearly got people pumped up about Trojan football, and that was seen and heard when Boulder City came in for a second-round playoff game.

This year? Well, the last regular season game against Valley was a de facto playoff game, with the winner advancing and the loser getting eliminated. That didn’t mean much, apparently, as the bleachers were far from filled.

But surely a home playoff game against an old rival would fill the stands. Although there was little time with no bye week, a push was made to make the game a blackout, with fans urged to wear black.

It looked like a black-and-silver-out, as aside from the center section and the one occupied by students — the ones who showed up were into it, as always — there was plenty of empty bleacher seating visible from across the way.

Maybe this season didn’t seem as special, but it was surprising that a Moapa Valley-Pahrump Valley playoff game would generate such modest interest. With how hard these guys were playing going into Friday night, they deserved more people in the seats. Even if it was cold.

Pirates made it look easy

Right from the beginning, Moapa Valley pretty much had its way on the field. The game’s first drive took four plays and 1 minute, 16 seconds as the Pirates broke off runs of 12, 7, 22 and 23 yards to reach the end zone.

Hayden Redd ran the final two plays on his way to a 12-carry, 99-yard night, 95 of them during the first half. The Pirates averaged 8.9 yards per carry during the first half.

The Pirates didn’t throw much, but quarterbacks Kashten Frei and Cameron Reese found open receivers when they did, including Chris Hoy, who hauled in a 26-yard touchdown pass from Frei just 1:16 before halftime for the Pirates’ final points. The QBs combined to complete 4 of 6 passes for 97 yards.

Nine of the Pirates’ 20 first-half plays went for 10 or more yards, including Steele Skinner’s 14-yard TD run on a pitch to the right and Redd’s 16-yard TD run on the second touchdown which featured breaking a tackle early and twisting into the end zone despite two Pahrump Valley defenders trying to keep him out.

Then there were two huge defensive plays: a 57-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Redd and an interception by senior Nathan Dalley that set up the Pirates on the Pahrump Valley 21 late in the first half. From there, it took three plays for the Pirates to pad their lead, as that’s when Frei found Hoy for a 35-0 bulge.

An early running clock

Before the game, Moapa Valley coach Brent Lewis told his players a classic bit of coachspeak: “This game will not be won in the first quarter. It will be won in the fourth quarter.”

Had he been right, that might have been a good sign for Pahrump Valley. But he was wrong. Very, very wrong. This game was over long before halftime.

It’s not much fun finding your team on the wrong end of a running clock. Being at home during a playoff game makes it worse. Reaching the 35-point mark to trigger it by halftime is another matter entirely.

But that’s where the Trojans found themselves, playing the entire second half on a running clock. As a result, they ran just six offensive plays during the third quarter and seven during the fourth.

Two of those plays were, perhaps, a sign that they don’t give up, as their brief final possession included a 10-yard run by Redmond and a game-ending 24-yard run by Kody Peugh. It might have been against backups, but hard running when it simply does not matter is something every coach likes to see.

Banged up until the end

It is impossible to talk about the 2019 Trojans without talking about injuries. The biggest were to lineman Armani McGhee and running back Tony Margiotta, but other players missed time and played hurt, limiting their effectiveness. Injuries reared their ugly head again last week, and Clayton had to wonder how much of an impact they had on the outcome.

“Was it the fact we lost Andrew Avena again and Tony hurt his shoulder again and wasn’t 100 percent? Not sure,” Clayton said. “But the fact is we were banged up, and we were all year. No excuses for how we performed, however. We were outplayed and outcoached.”

Margiotta led the Trojans with 54 yards on 12 carries, while Peugh rushed 5 times for 45 yards. No other Trojan managed more than 20 yards on the ground, and the only completed pass of the game went for negative yardage.

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