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July 22, 2014

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Palo Verde advances with dominant win over Centennial

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Palo Verde High football players (from left) Sean Dennis, Josh Hamilton and Parker Rost before the 2013 season.

Prep Sports Now

Fearsome foursome of games

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With only four playoff games on the docket, Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer spend significant time on each of them. They also allow for detours on rap, juicing and ringtones. ***NOTE: We apologize for the return of audio issues, this time on Brewer's microphone. Please turn up the volume in order to hear him.

There wasn’t much Palo Verde senior quarterback Parker Rost didn’t do when his team played Centennial in the Sunset Region semifinal. Well, except throw the ball.

But Rost didn’t really need to do that given how dominant the Panthers were on the ground.

Palo Verde rushed for 315 yards on 50 carries and only attempted two passes in a 42-14 victory over Centennial.

“We have a lot of all-league (offensive linemen), who know what they’re doing,” Rost said. “They just get the blocks in, and we got it done.”

While he was 0-for-2 through the air, Rost did other things like run for yardage, break tackles, get out as a lead blocker and even coach a little bit when he was on the sideline for most of the fourth quarter.

It was all part of the effort to advance in the playoffs.

Palo Verde steams into the Sunset Region championship game — which doubles as the state semifinal — where it will take on Bishop Gorman, or as the the public address announcer dubbed it, “the evil empire.”

“They’re going to have to show up and play team football,” Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost said on what it will take to knock off the four-time defending state champions. “We’ve been preaching that since Day 1.”

The Panthers set the tone early, scoring on three of their first five possessions behind a dominant rushing attack. They padded their lead following a Hykeem Massey 10-yard touchdown run to go up 28-0 early in the third quarter, but what occurred next all but secured the belief that it was the Panthers’ night.

To avoid having the explosive Lantz Worthington returning the ball in the ensuing kickoff, the Panthers opted to squib kick.

Palo Verde kicker Bradley Matsukawa did as he was told, but the ball conveniently bounced off a Centennial player, which Palo Verde recovered.

“(Bradley) was just supposed to kick it hard on the ground” Darwin Rost said. “It hit the Centennial guy. We just didn’t want to kick it deep. They have great returners back there. That was our whole thing.”

After trading turnovers, Parker Rost ran home a touchdown to give the Panthers a 35-0 lead.

Given the five-touchdown cushion, Centennial pinned on its own 1-yard line, and a steadfast defense, Darwin Rost was preparing to get his second-teamers into the game when the fours went up, signalling the fourth quarter.

Then on 3rd and 10, Worthington broke off an insert-your-adjective-of-choice 99-yard touchdown run, giving the Centennial faithful something to cheer about.

“Our outside guy got sucked in, and he popped it outside,” Darwin Rost said. “He did that earlier in the first game against us, where they threw him a swing pass to the sideline (and he broke off a large run).”

Then after an onside kick that failed to go the necessary 10 yards, Parker Rost returned the favor with a highlight reel touchdown run of his own. He broke a tackle in the open field and ran 56 yards to the house to restore the five-touchdown advantage.

“I just kind of put my head down,” Parker said. “After I spun, I just started running and hoped I didn’t get run down from behind. The team did a great job blocking the play.”

Calvin Beaulieu led the Panthers with 92 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown. Parker Rost had 89 yards on eight carries, while Massey had 87 yards on seven carries with two touchdowns, including a 35-yard scamper in the second quarter.

“We told the kids, ‘You have to play real physical,’” the elder Rost said. “We’ve been playing physical all year long, and our offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage, and we found the seams and hit them.”

Other than his electric 99-yard touchdown run, Worthington had a quiet day. He was targeted three times in the passing game, and rushed for 134 yards on 11 carries.

“He’s a really good running back,” Darwin Rost said. “We did a good job with doing our jobs defensively.”

Paul Delos Santos can be reached at 990-2416 or mail to [email protected] Follow Paul on Twitter at twitter.com/pauliedelos.

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