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January 17, 2022

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Palo Verde blanks Reno, 56-0

Eye of the panther

Hepi Mita

Panthers quarterback Kelly Zurowski scans the Reno defense during Palo Verde’s home opener on Friday. Zurowski’s offense scored more than 50 points in the game.

Palo Verde Panthers beat Reno, 56-0

The Palo Verde defense lines up against Reno High School during Reno's first possession of the game. The Panthers' defense kept Reno from scoring a single point. Launch slideshow »

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Over the phone Thursday, Lenny Ross jokingly told his old Eldorado High coach to “throw the pill” Friday night against Reno.

Darwin Rost, whose Palo Verde High team runs over foes out of the double-wing formation, slept on Ross’s advice and then did just that as the Panthers’ first two touchdowns of a 56-0 victory came through the air.

After the game, Ross, part of Eldorado’s 1991 state title-winning team, laughed and howled on the field about 10 yards away from Rost.

“He told me to shock them,” Rost said. “Hey, coaching is about having the horses. I’ve never seen a donkey win the Kentucky Derby.”

USC-bound running back Torin Harris scored the game's first points on a 15-yard touchdown reception on the right side from quarterback Kelly Zurowski, capping Palo Verde’s first drive.

The second drive consisted of one play, a 50-yard bomb from Zurowski to Alex Bonczyk, who blistered down the middle of the field and reached high to grab the ball with his right hand.

“On that first one, Torin just had great hands,” Zurowski said. “And on the second, Alex obviously showed he has great hands by grabbing it one-handed.”

Bonczyk kicked four extra points, including one after he intercepted a pass from Reno junior quarterback Nick Bietz and ran it back 67 yards for a touchdown. That made it 28-0 near the end of the first half.

“I do what I usually do,” Bonczyk said. “On the long touchdown reception, I had my guy. And on the interception, it was a pop-pass. I was right there. Just stepped in front. We did what we did, and won.”

At the end of Reno’s first drive of the third quarter, two Huskies players barked at each other on the sideline and there was some shoving.

Palo Verde senior running back Chaz Thomas had capped a three-play drive to open the second half with a 59-yard touchdown run around the right side to make it 35-0.

The rest of both teams’ season opener was academic.

Reno coach Dan Avansino admitted that he and his staff had looked at the two DVDs that Rost has produced in recent years about the double-wing offense.

One is about passing out of the tight formation; the other is based on the running options.

“We did look at them,” Avansino said. “But we just couldn’t match their speed on the perimeter.”

When the Huskies thought the Panthers would run inside, they ran outside. When they thought the Panthers would run wide, they ran between the tackles.

“That’s a great team,” Avansino said. “That’s why we scheduled the game.”

Those DVDs will only show so much, Thomas said.

“Every team knows what’s going to come at them,” he said. “We’ll see if they can stop it. Most of them can’t.”

The Panthers collected 333 yards on their 33 rushes, an average that will spark many foes to start barking at each other.

But Rost looked across the field, down at the other goal, at Avansino and said embarrassing him or the Huskies was never the goal.

Rost spent a February day in Reno with Avansino and talked shop with him and his coaches.

“I have the utmost respect for him and his staff,” Rost said. “I just don’t think they were ready for our speed.”

Rost also admitted that those DVDs only show basic schemes and strategies. He kept some stuff out, like 50-yard bombs that a versatile player snatches with one hand.

When will that be included in a DVD?

“I’ll wait,” said Rost, smiling, “until I retire.”

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