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October 1, 2014

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high school football:

Parker Rost, pass-happy Palo Verde haunt Legacy in 47-32 victory

Panthers erase early 10-0 deficit to the Longhorns behind Rost and Jake Ortale

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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.

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The Fluke Bowl; Battle for Chicken Fingers

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters spend extra time this week discussing impending matchups between Green Valley and Coronado and Centennial and Arbor View. They also look back on the Henderson Bowl and Bishop Gorman's thrilling victory. ***Note: We apologize for the audio-level issues and are looking into correcting the malfunction for next week. In the meantime, please turn up your volume in order to hear Keefer.***

Parker Rost carved up the Legacy defense like a Halloween pumpkin.

No subsequent glow emanated from the team in burnt orange, however, to get them back in the game. Rost was too destructive in throwing for four touchdowns and running for two more to lead Palo Verde to a season-opening 47-32 victory.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever done that in my life,” said the senior Rost, now in his third year as the Panthers’ starting signal caller.

Something felt spooky at the field Legacy calls its “Corral” Thursday night. It was as if the Palo Verde offense was possessed.

A dedicated double-wing rushing team for more than a decade, the Panthers hardly ever throw the ball more than five times in a game. Rost, therefore, just rearranged the entire passing section of the Palo Verde record book in one contest.

He went to the air 16 times, completing 11 of the passes for a total of 316 yards.

“I didn’t know we were going to throw that much,” admitted Darwin Rost, Palo Verde coach and Parker’s father. “I think Parker called half of them.”

Darwin joked Parker was “a lot smarter than his dad” and able to spot holes in the defense. The Longhorns’ stop unit must have resembled a sponge to Parker during a 15-minute stretch of game time from the middle of the first quarter to the end of the second because that’s when his arm took over.

Parker took his team on a 28-0 run by completing seven straight attempts — eventually extended to nine in the second half — bookended by touchdown passes to senior tight end Jake Ortale.

“It really surprised me how much we threw it,” Ortale chimed in with the rest of the chorus. “Parker was just throwing dime after dime to me. I was amazed.”

Speaking of records, Ortale can now likely claim Palo Verde’s receiving ones. He had seven catches for 198 yards and three touchdowns.

Palo Verde picked an opportune time to awaken its sleeping monster of a passing attack. The game wasn’t going so well before that.

Legacy stormed out to a 10-0 lead in the first four minutes, capitalizing on a fumble on the opening kickoff from Palo Verde at its own seven-yard line with a 25-yard field goal from Julian Castro. On the Longhorns second possession, Casey Hughes broke one tackle and sprinted 95 yards for a touchdown.

“He’s the type of kid who gets on the field and makes use of his speed to make plays,” Darwin Rost said. “He’s really explosive.”

Hughes served as the singular force to keep Legacy alive with 16 carries for 236 yards and three touchdowns. He had another long scoring run when he broke free from 58 yards out, but the most memorable might have come from the one-yard line.

Hughes treated a pile at the line of scrimmage as a ramp, climbing up it with a sprint to launch into the end zone. That cut Palo Verde’s lead to 28-16 early in the third quarter.

But Parker Rost found Ortale twice in the next minute-and-a-half to get the ball to the goal line, where he punched it in with a one-yard run.

“I normally like sticking to the run because that’s what’s won games here,” Parker Rost said.

The rushing prospects aren’t lacking this year at Palo Verde either. On the contrary, the Panthers produced a 118-yard rusher Thursday in junior Jaren Campbell.

Four other players on the roster had at least five rushes — Parker Rost, Hykeem Massey, Sean Dennis and Ty Fuller — and collectively averaged seven yards per carry.

Massey scored in early in the fourth quarter with a seven-yard run to put Palo Verde ahead 40-24. Legacy answered with a drive capped by a 9-yard touchdown pass from Devin Williams to Nieamiah Lane and a successful two-point conversion.

Suddenly a one-possession game at 40-32 with six minutes to go, the Panthers felt real pressure for the first time since Hughes’ initial touchdown run. They responded the same way too.

Parker Rost marched his team down to Legacy’s 35-yard line before enduring a big pass rush on one play where he lofted a pass to Ortale in the middle of the field. Ortale came down with the ball, stiff-armed a defender to the ground and sliced his way through a couple others to the end zone.

“I hope we keep throwing the ball,” Ortale said afterwards. “We’ll see. I love it.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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