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January 30, 2015

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high school football:

Moapa Valley wins ninth straight to secure home-field advantage in playoffs


Ralph Freso / Special to the Sun

Moapa Valley running back Conner Mortensen sprints to the endzone past the Blue Ridge High defense during the second quarter of the 2012 AIA Sollenberger Classic football game on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Mortensen was knocked out of bounds at the 1-yard line.

Prep Sports Now

Thoughts on realignment, Centennial's challenge and Green Valley's latest romp

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer touch on every high school football team in the valley and more on this week's episode. The topics, rants and disagreements are at an all-time high, so brace your ears and get ready to take sides.

The Moapa Valley High football team has reached the state title game the past six years.

If the second quarter of Friday’s 49-20 victory against host Desert Pines is any indication, the Pirates are in the driver’s seat for a return trip to the title game.

Moapa Valley scored 35 points in the quarter against a Desert Pines squad Pirates’ coach Brent Lewis said was the toughest his team has faced since the opener in middle of August against defending Arizona champion Blue Ridge.

Since losing 23-14 to Blue Ridge, Moapa Valley has scored at least 45 points per game in winning its last nine. They’ve outscored opponents 476-69.

Friday’s win gave the Pirates home field advantage through the state playoffs, which begin next Thursday against a Pahrump Valley team it beat 45-7 in late August.

Conner Mortensen rushed for around 250 yards and had four total touchdowns, combining with Sean McConnell in the backfield for arguably the Division I-A’s best offensive tandem. Against Desert Pines, McConnell had a pair of touchdown receptions from Josh Repp and rushed for 81 yards on seven carries.

“That’s the expectation here,” McConnell said of the deep playoff runs.

Mortensen started the scoring in the first quarter with a 64-yard punt return for a touchdown. He added three touchdown runs during the second-quarter domination, scoring on runs of 4, 1 and 6 yards.

It was another solid performance from Moapa Valley, which is ranked No. 8 in the Sun’s top-10 rankings — the lone Division I-A school on the list. Desert Pines barely had positive yardage in the first half.

“We put on a clinic in the first half. I thought we did pretty much everything we wanted,” Lewis said.

Jared Repp had a short touchdown run in the fourth quarter for Moapa Valley’s lone second half points. Desert Pines made things entertaining late by scoring 14 unanswered points to close the game, forcing Lewis to re-insert his first-team defense to close the game.

While it wasn’t pretty, it was the kind of late-game challenge Moapa Valley needed. They’ve won so comfortably all season that the first-string players aren’t accustomed to playing a full game.

“We gave them a couple of big plays and let them feel they were back in the game right there (at the end),” Lewis said. “Maybe that is what we needed to keep us refocused heading into the playoffs. We definitely don’t walk away feeling great about how we played in the second half.”

Malik Davis had all three of the Desert Pines touchdowns, including a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown where he made several would-be Moapa Valley tacklers miss near the sideline before winning a foot race to the end zone.

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

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  1. Dang 14 of DP's 6 points came in fourth quarter against 2nd string? Can't wait to see how the 1A playoffs shake out after first round

  2. Neither Cheyenne nor Boulder City will Win in Truckee in November. That simply WILL NOT happen.
    Truckee defeated previously unbeaten Fallon 30-20 on Friday night, and looked good doing it.
    It looks like Truckee will get to host Fernley in the first round up North, and Truckee will have a chance to show everyone what happens to Fernley when the "real" Wolverines show up...

  3. No way Boulder City wins up north. They've definitively been a good IA team but the whooping Moapa put on them just clarified how big the gap is between the Pirates and the rest of IA.

    Been saying it since pre season if Cheyenne played down here i'd take them over Truckee if they play up north i'd take Truckee. I'll still say that and now with as shaky as Cheyenne's defense has been at times. Although I wouldn't even be willing to put money on them beating Truckee in the south they'd need a hell of a defensive game.

    Cheyenne has a fair amount of talent, they really do. If they had a structured, more disciplined and well run program like Truckee/Moapa they'd be a scary monster. While Cheyenne should be in the Div I and they've had plenty of success over the years at football this will be a new experience for the current players to have a real shot at winning a championship. Between all the hype they had pre-season and some of their wins this year it's not a far stretch to see the hype and the bus ride being way too much to handle, not to mention the Truckee team they'd potentially face when they arrived.

    Between only a 2 point win against Mojave and letting Western put 40+ points on them I don't see Cheyenne beating Truckee or Moapa. Welcome to the new 3A, it isn't a gimme.

  4. One thing most folks don't realize is that the Pirates' first team offense/defense have sat out most of the 2nd half of the games this year. While their defense has been scored on, most often it was the 2nd team on the field.

    We watched every game last year and this year's team is better. There were some hard lessons learned last year. This year there are many more kids that have gotten to see the field which makes the Pirates deeper than last year. This is key since last year the Pirates went into the playoffs without their starting QB. That adjustment alone cost them heavily as can be noted by the number of interceptions and turnovers in the state game. I'm not going to say the Pirates could have beaten Truckee last year (or not going to use that as an excuse really), but what I am saying is that Truckee is good but not unbeatable. The trip up is long but it doesn't impact the players as much as you think it does since they go up a day or two ahead of time. The biggest impact is going to be the cold. It is hard to play ball in the cold weather. If BC/Cheyenne can over come that, they have a chance.

    Should be fun to watch the playoffs...

  5. First, as to what happened in the Fernley at Truckee game...
    I believe that "some" of the Truckee players may not have taken Fernley as serious as they should have. I also believe that the Media attention from "the Streak", was a big distraction. It was several times a week, from both Reno and Sacramento. It was also Homecoming, the Powder Puff game, which is coached by the players...and a parade through downtown for Homecoming.
    I also believe the Offense, which had not played up to expectations this year, once again did not play at the level they are capable of. Truckee turned the ball over 3 times, Fernley 0. Truckee had 15 penalties, that killed drives, most were of the "False Start" or "Illegal Procedure" type...
    They also had 32 missed tackles. Two key players for Truckee were injured during the game, and saw little action in the 2nd half...
    The following week against Wooster, they only had 3 penalties, and less than 15 missed tackles.
    Regarding the Truckee at Fallon game.
    Truckee was seen as the underdog, and they still had the bitter taste of the Fernley loss in their mouths...
    Truckee started right off the bat, stripping the ball on Fallon's first play from scrimmage, running the fumble back inside the 20, and coming away with a FG.
    Truckee's D was able to put more pressure on the Fallon QB than they had seen all year, which led to TWO INT's. Fallon's QB had only thrown 3 picks ALL YEAR, leading into that game.
    Fallon had made adjustments at half time all season, and come out strong in the 2nd half, against both Dayton and Spring Creek. (Fallon was trailing Dayton 8-7 at half time, and was tied with Spring Creek 21 all, at half time.)
    Truckee adjusted and OWNED the 4th Q.
    Truckee actually could have put another score on the board late in the 4th, but ran out the clock...inside the Red Zone.
    You will see a different Wolverine team when Fernley comes to town in the first round of the Playoffs...

  6. blueandgold,
    Truckee also won the Special Teams battle. Fallon often had to go the length of the field, and moved the ball well between the 30's. Fallon had difficulty punting, and Truckee had good field position on "most" of their drives, that is why the big difference in yardage.

  7. MVP reference this : "The trip up is long but it doesn't impact the players as much as you think"

    That applies to a few teams such as Moapa but not to most teams because those kids have been there before, they're not new to traveling for a big game or the weather or playing a northern foe.

    Most kids at Cheyenne have probably never played in the snow, have never traveled that far for a game and most of them probably never heard or knew of Truckee/Fallon or any IA northern team before this season.

  8. "lvfootballfan",
    No Excuses, Fernley came in and Won the game.
    "BlueandGold" asked me what my diagnosis was of the Fernley at Truckee game, so I gave my "opinion".
    Hard to win a game when you turn the ball over 3 times and your opponent does not turn it over.
    Keep in mind, the final score was 7-0.
    The only score in the game came with less than 2 minutes to go in the game...
    I guarantee you there will be a lot more than 7 points the second time around...