Las Vegas Sun

August 24, 2016

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high school football:

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

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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

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 ray.brewer@lasvegassun.com. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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