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Trojans Football Notebook: Playoff seeds will shake out Friday

While the top seeds in both the Sunrise and Sunset leagues have been determined, the other seeds will be decided Friday night.

At least in the Sunrise, we know who will be in the playoffs. Boulder City (5-3, 2-1 Sunrise) and Sunrise Mountain (3-5, 2-1) play Friday night in Las Vegas to decide who draws the second seed and who draws the third. The rivalry game between Moapa Valley (8-1, 3-0) and Virgin Valley (7-2, 1-2) means nothing to the standings.

In the Sunset, Cheyenne clinched a playoff spot, while Del Sol and Valley are still in contention for the final one. Del Sol’s big win over Valley (more on that next) means they would win a head-to-head tiebreaker, so for the Vikings to make the playoffs they would have to beat Pahrump Valley on Friday night while Del Sol loses to Cheyenne. Not impossible, but not likely given the way the Trojans are playing.

If the most likely outcomes actually happen, Sunrise Mountain would travel to Cheyenne with the winner to go to Moapa Valley, while Boulder City would host Del Sol with the winner going to Pahrump Valley. But “most likely” outcomes don’t always happen. Consider …

A little help from their friends?

Everything was lining up for a winner-take-all showdown Friday night, with Pahrump Valley traveling to Valley with the Sunset League title on the line. After all, the Trojans were facing a woeful Western team while the Vikings were meeting a Dragons squad that saw its vaunted passing game very well contained by the Trojans.

About that …

With the starting running back out with a foot injury, Del Sol’s football team turned to Southern Nevada’s leading receiver to shoulder the load. Wide receiver Markell Turner rushed for 213 yards and three touchdowns as the host Dragons crushed Valley 46-6.

“I was kind of nervous coming into the game,” Turner said. “I didn’t want to mess up. But, I trusted my offensive line and the rest of my teammates.”

The interesting part is Del Sol’s offense had been based on passing. A week earlier against Pahrump Valley, the Dragons ran the ball nine times and passed it 22 times.

“We took for granted our momentum from earlier in the year,” Del Sol coach Mike Valenzuela said. “We thought we could just score on anybody and began to take things easy. We needed to get reminded that the team that plays faster and is more physical usually wins.”

That could make Del Sol a more dangerous opponent in the playoffs.

A little help, Part II

While the Del Sol-Valley score was surprising, that was nothing compared to the other key Class 3A result Friday night. Sunrise Mountain, which had beaten only Rancho (1-8) and Democracy Prep (2-7), traveled to Mesquite and came back with a stunning 28-18 win over Virgin Valley.

The Bulldogs entered the game ranked No. 3 among Class 3A schools, and they still held a shot at claiming the Sunrise League’s top playoff seed. They left them out of the playoffs.

The Miners, on the other hand, clinched a spot in the postseason. They are tied with Boulder City for second in the league at 2-1. Those teams face off in the regular-season finale Friday night, and both hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bulldogs.

How does this affect Pahrump Valley? Virgin Valley got the better of the Trojans, racking up 379 yards of offense to 258 for the Trojans in a 26-24 win. Sure, that was a long, long time ago, but compare that to the result against Sunrise Mountain: The Trojans jumped out to a 28-6 halftime lead, rushed for more than 9 yards per carry and coasted to a 42-14 win.

Nobody assumes the same results would happen in a rematch, but seeing Sunrise Mountain (3-5) in the playoffs is a very different animal than seeing Virgin Valley (7-2).

Playoff speculation

Coaches like to say they focus on one game at a time. And while they do, they’re human and look ahead like everybody else. Pahrump Valley coach Joe Clayton, for his part, sees Boulder City in his future.

“The way we think it’s going to play out is we’ll be playing Boulder City right here,” he said while thinking out loud on the bench after the Trojans’ 66-0 win over Western on Friday night. “The other side (Sunrise League) is a little tougher.”

At the time, the assumption was Boulder City and Virgin Valley would be in the postseason. The Bulldogs’ shocking loss to Sunrise Mountain evens out the postseason lineups a little. Either way, being the top seed is a big deal for Pahrump Valley.

“Being at home is going to be huge,” Clayton said. “That’s a huge advantage for us, because we know how well our boys play at home. We haven’t had a home playoff game in 13 years.”

Losing to Boulder City during the regular season shouldn’t hurt the Trojans’ confidence very much. They made a lot of mistakes in that game and still lost by only four to a team whose leading rusher went over 200 yards. Playing a similar game without the mistakes would mean a win.

“That’s how we look at it, and that was early on, too,” Clayton said. “We’re a better team than we were back then. We’ve made some huge adjustments since we played them.

“I think these boys are ready to go. We’re on a high right now at the best time. Four wins in a row, that helps the morale a little bit.”

The Wright stuff

Sophomore Dylan Wright has not been called upon to pass much this season, but he has been effective, mostly finding senior Joey Koenig open behind the defense for big gains. Friday night, Wright showed he can be effective when throwing more often and finding different receivers.

With the Trojans ahead 20-0 late in the first quarter, the Trojans surprised everyone by going to the air. After a drop on his first pass attempt, Wright hit Dylan Grossell for 39 yards to the Western 22, then hooked up with Casey Flennory for a 22-yard screen pass to put Pahrump Valley ahead 27-0.

After a post-safety free kick gave the Trojans the ball at their own 47, they again took to the skies. Wright hit Nico Velazquez for 17 yards on first down, then threw three consecutive incompletions. But, with the outcome not in doubt, the Trojans went for it on fourth-and-10, and Wright found Willie Lucas open over the middle for a 36-yard score.

“That’s practicing stuff we want to get better at, simply because what better practice than against a live opponent,” Clayton said.

For the season, Wright has completed 10 passes for 411 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions. That’s more than 16 yards per attempt and a touchdown on every other completion. Not bad for a team that doesn’t throw.

More numbers

Although his services weren’t required for long because of the lopsided score, senior Nico Velazquez played enough to reach 1,000 yards rushing for the season. Velazquez carried eight times for 105 yards, giving him 137 carries for 1,000 yards. He has scored 11 touchdowns rushing and also has one touchdown passing.

Velazquez and Casey Flennory are atop the Trojans’ scoring leaders this season, with Velazquez accounting for 74 and Flennory 70. More interesting is the fact 12 Trojans have scored a touchdown this season. The latest to add their names to the list are Donnie Miller, the 5-foot-7 junior who returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown against Western, and Willie Lucas, who might have more if he didn’t join the team after the season started. In addition to the touchdown pass from Wright, the senior returned a punt 55 yards for the Trojans’ final score.

Even without catching a pass Friday night, Koenig is far and away the Trojans’ leading receiver with 294 yards. More startling is the 49 yards per catch he is averaging.

Defensively, Grossell leads the team in tackles with 43, with Anthony Peralta right behind with 42. Velazquez had three of the Trojans’ 11 sacks and Andrew Avena has two interceptions.

Contact Sports Editor Tom Rysinski at trysinski@pvtimes.com On Twitter:@PVTimesSports

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