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October 20, 2014

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Ray Brewer: From the Pressbox

ray brewer:

Pahrump football not giving up despite taking lumps

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One stat perfectly describes the struggles of the Pahrump Valley High football team this fall: Bishop Gorman kicker Colin Ditsworth has more extra points (65) than the Trojans have points (54).

But don’t judge Pahrump, a team that has as many ties as it does wins in the last three years, by its record or other misleading figures.

It should be judged by its willingness to never throw in the towel — no matter how easy it would have been to give up.

Sure, going 1-25-1 since 2007 and losing virtually every game in lopsided fashion leaves plenty of room for improvement. Somehow, they tied Yucca Valley, Calif., 34-34 three years ago.

But when Pahrump takes the field for its final game on Thursday night, the Trojans could finally have something to rejoice about.

Pahrump takes on host Sierra Vista, an opponent with only one victory this year, to close out the season in a game the players feel is winnable.

The Trojans are better than their record indicates and a victory would validate the strides they have made. It would also give them momentum for an offseason workout program — something virtually non-existent in years past.

“We are headed in the right direction,” Pahrump coach Leo Verzilli said. “We felt like we could have won three or four games by now. But we keep shooting ourselves in the foot. It’s been more of a case of what we do to ourselves, not what they do to us.”

Several feel Pahrump, a school with an enrollment of 1,200 students, shouldn’t have been promoted from the 3A classification two years ago. It was outscored 201-14 in being swept by four 3A Southern League opponents in 2007 and has 1,000 less students than opponents in the 4A.

Add in a tradition of losing — it only has six winning seasons in 36 years of existence — and the table was set for a disaster.

Verzilli will be the first to admit the losing has been tough. But he is also the first to praise he players for their effort.

Now, it is a matter turning that effort into wins. A victory against Sierra Vista would be a step in the right direction, but only if that leads to more participation in an offseason program.

Pahrump was leading Durango 7-0 at halftime Oct. 2 before giving up 49 unanswered points to close the game. The second-half letdown was indication of Pahrump’s biggest problem — they don’t have enough numbers to compete.

“I thought they were much improved (from last year),” Durango coach Gary Maki said. “They played hard against us both years and you could see where they could become competitive. But for them to get competitive, they really need to get some weight training.”

They also need to get the town’s athletes involved in football. Until four years ago, Verzilli said the area didn’t have a youth football team. Now, they have two teams, but those athletes won’t hit the high school varsity squad for a few seasons.

To makes matters worse, some of the school’s best athletes pass on playing because they realize the end result never changes — nine weeks of losing.

“We have six to 10 athletes (who aren’t on the team) wandering the halls who think, ‘Why should I go out for the team and get beat up every weekend?,’” Verzilli said.

Come Thursday night, however, Pahrump could be doing the beating.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected].

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