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April 26, 2015

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high school football:

Wasted opportunities early haunt Moapa Valley in state championship loss

Truckee High of California-Northern Nevada border beats Overton school for fourth straight season in title game


Stephen Sylvanie / Special to the Sun

Moapa defenders Landon Willard, left, and Andrew Bellevance converge on Truckee receiver Adam Morgan to break up the play on Saturday night at Fertitta Field.

Moapa Valley Loses Championship

Pirate running back Connor Mortensen mishandles a pass after being hit by Wolverines defensive back Javier Virrey during the second half of the Nevada State Division IA Championship game at Fertitta Field on Saturday night. Launch slideshow »
Prep Sports Now

Moapa in state championship; super six left in Division 1

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Case Keefer and Ray Brewer preview all of the week's high school football action.

The Moapa Valley High football team appeared to be executing its game plan to near perfection on its first possession Saturday in the Division-IA state title game against three-time defending champion Truckee.

Moapa Valley received the ball first and ran nearly 10 minutes off the clock with a 17-play drive. But despite bringing the ball to inside the Truckee 5-yard line, the Pirates had to settle for a field goal and 3-0 lead.

The rest of the game followed a similar script. Moapa Valley marched into scoring range several times, but couldn’t convert in producing a result that was all too familiar for the Overton school.

They lost to Truckee for the fourth straight year in the state championship game, allowing 20 unanswered points to close the game to fall, 34-10, at Bishop Gorman’s Fertitta Field.

“We had those two scoring opportunities early and we didn’t come away with any points except those three,” Moapa Valley coach Brent Lewis said. “Those were missed opportunities for us. I don’t know how many times we were in the red zone. It seemed like we couldn’t get that one key play we needed in the red zone.”

Truckee only had possession for 53 seconds with 8:26 to play in the second quarter. Yet, Moapa Valley only had a three-point lead to show for the strong start.

And, that lead was erased with one play.

Truckee quarterback Erik Holmer’s first of four touchdown passes went 80 yards to Zak Pettit to give the Wolverines a 7-3 advantage with about eight minutes remaining before halftime. They would never trail again.

Holmer’s second touchdown pass came 23 seconds before halftime to Tyler Griffin for a 14-3 halftime advantage.

Moapa Valley’s Kasen Hughes scored on an 11-yard run to trim the Pirates deficit to four points early in the third quarter, but Truckee quickly answered on it ensuing possession with a short touchdown run from Holmer — permanently stealing the game’s momentum and essentially sealing the championship.

“That kind of sucked the life out of us right there,” Lewis said. “That was the key drive of the game. That was a momentum killer for us.”

Moapa Valley entered on a 12-game winning streak dating back to late August. Most games, the Pirates’ run game was impossible in averaging 339 yards on the ground per game.

But with Truckee’s defensive front having a clear size advantage against Moapa Valley’s offensive line, the Pirates altered their plan of attack. Conner Mortensen entered with 1,755 yards and 31 touchdown on 182 carries, but was limited to nine carries for 43 yards.

“They are tough to run against,” Lewis said. “They take all of your strengths away and make you do things you wouldn’t do. They have good kids and they are well coaches. You can’t beat them. They are tough.”

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

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  1. jc52 that's some bitter bob stuff to say. Truckee has been a part of the NIAA since before most schools in Vegas even existed. They were the better team and beat out a school with 4 times their enrollment to earn a shot at the title. A title which they took playing far from home from a very capable Moapa Valley team.

    As for the game, I have to be honest it was the most fun I've had at a game all season. Two small town teams with very loud and "into it" fans absolutely what HSFB is about. Kudos to both Moapa and Truckee for having such a great following I wish more Gorman fans were that way.

    It was fun, hard hitting football by two very gritty teams. Clearly Truckee's got Moapa's number.

    Having Truckee in the state top 10 for most of this year was the right call. I've seen some limited film of Reed and will get to watch them Friday but I'm pretty sure Truckee is the better of the two.

    My only complaint from the game were the refs. I do believe they are the same crew from at least one Gorman game. They were very inconstant and missed several clear calls for either team. On one particular 5 yard penalty they actually walked it 7 yards while Truckee's sideline rightly went nuts about their 2 extra yard gift. They also missed several very clear and very obvious unsportsmanlike penalties committed by Truckee.

    While I appreciate the hard work the refs do for the amateur sport of HSFB i think their inconsistency for both sides was a bummer considering it was a championship game and the kids and coaches deserve better. Nonetheless congrats to both 3A schools beating out all the new 4A arrivals into the division, should be a lot of fun for years to come.

  2. sports, thanks for clearing that one up, it certainly looked bad. I agree that the refs certainly didn't decide the game, Truckee was clearly the better team it would have been nice for the quality of officials to match the quality of football being played.

    #20 was certainly a beast, when he broke for 80 yards it was funny seeing big boy outrun everyone to the endzone. The kid has a radar for the ball and with the exception of Moapa's first series it felt like Truckee's defense had 12-13 guys on the field all the time because they were playing so good.

    Pettit reminded me a lot of Del Sol's linebacker that graduated last year- Lindemann. Unfortunately he also reminded me of Justin Chaisson for a bit too much after the whistle stuff and unnecessary arrogance. All in all I was very impressed by Truckee.

  3. Wow kick them out, that's a bit hard. They deserve to stay , they won. They were good, hands down.A little cocky but if you feel the entire state is against you , I can see were the( in your face) attitude comes from.
    Congrats to both teams, this new league was a success and it showed on Saturday.
    Question,how are the refs chosen for the championship games. I would hope that they are using the best refs and not just using a rotation.

  4. I agree that the officiating was WAY below par! I couldn't believe some of the missed calls. How can I see things way up in the stands that the refs couldn't see 5 yds in front of them. The drive Truckee scored to go up 21-10, where Truckees QB scrambled out to the left, there was a blatant block in the back 10 yds off the line of scrimmage that kept the drive alive. And the next 3rd down same drive, an OBVIOUS false start on the left tackle was missed. What are these officials looking at. And I won't get into that circus of a job they did on that punt return play where Moapa picked it up and scored, but miraculously Moapa was only penalized for men on the field where clearly both teams had extra players on the field. Also heard that LTG who does Truckees radio kept saying Moapa players were playing dirty? Are you kidding? Well from an unbiased watcher in tuasdad we see it was the other way around. Obvious sour grapes, and Truckee is always a good team, and very well prepared. But I think some things in the game were given to them. It honestly felt like we were playing up north. I'll hang up and listen.

  5. moapaalum05,
    I Did NOT say that "Moapa players were playing dirty".
    We record the broadcasts, and I listened back to the entire broadcast.
    I have tremendous respect for the Moapa Valley Pirates' program. (Coaches and Players)
    What I DID say, was there was a little "extra effort" on the tackles.
    I did NOT ever use the term "dirty".
    I have also watched the game film 3 times. The punt you refer to, was actually "touched down", by a Truckee player, but not picked up.... or "possessed" by a Truckee player, according to the Officials' call.
    I will say, the Officials seemed to need to "discuss" many calls in this game, both ways...