Friday, Nov. 5, 2010 | 9:26 p.m.
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Las Vegas Sun reporters Case Keefer and Ray Brewer break down this week's high school football playoff games, including their picks for potential upsets.
The Palo Verde High football team remained undefeated Friday night — barely.
The Panthers’ offense was held in check most of the game against host Arbor View in the regular season finale between undefeated Northwest Division teams.
But Palo Verde scored 17 unanswered points in the game’s final 11 minutes, blowing open a game that was scoreless after three quarters for a hard-fought 17-0 victory.
The win secured the Northwest title for the perennial power Panthers, also giving them home-field advantage in the eight-team Sunset Regional playoffs. A showdown with Summerlin neighbor and defending state champion Bishop Gorman could potentially happen in the regional title game over Thanksgiving weekend.
Thanks to its win Friday, Palo Verde would host the game.
“We’re a way different team when we play at home,” said Palo Verde senior running back Brandon Wright, who scored the eventual game-winning touchdown on a 51-yard run with 10:41 to play.
“We adapt better because it’s our home field. Other teams don’t really adapt to our field well, because it’s such a different atmosphere.”
Palo Verde senior kicker Garrett Dunlap connected on a 28-yard field goal with 4:48 to play to extend the Panthers’ lead to 10-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, Arbor View kick returner Jordan Godman fumbled while trying to break a tackle and Palo Verde took over at the Aggies’ 9-yard line.
Palo Verde senior running back Garrett Rost punched it in from a yard out three plays later to give the Panthers a 17-0 lead.
The game was much closer than the final score indicates. Arbor View’s defense shut down Palo Verde in the first half, but its offense was unable to capitalize on scoring opportunities.
Arbor View kicker Logan Yunker missed a 38-yard field goal in the second quarter that would have given the Aggies a 3-0 lead.
Aggies quarterback Henry Hoffend threw an interception in the red zone in the second quarter to kill another Arbor View scoring opportunity. Panthers sophomore cornerback Ryan Beaulieu made an excellent play on the ball as he went up and caught it at its highest point.
Despite the loss, Arbor View finished the regular season 9-1 and goes into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed against Durango Thursday.
It is Arbor View’s first trip to the playoffs since the school opened five years ago.
“We did a lot of firsts this year,” Barnson said. “A lot of teams we beat for the first time. First playoff team in the school history; first home playoff game. It’s big. There’s going to be a lot of people here. It’s going to be exciting.”
Barnson said he team flourished in the role of the underdog. That is the mentality they will take into the playoffs.
“People predicted us to finish eight out of nine in the Northwest, and we played for a division championship tonight,” Barnson said. “Can you ask any more of your kids? No, I can’t. They’ve battled since August and it’s November and we’re still playing, so that’s a good feeling.”