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high school football:

Stingy Palo Verde defense keys victory against Arbor View, puts Panthers in Northwest driver’s seat

Palo Verde Tops Arbor View 14-7

Justin M. Bowen

Palo Verdes Joshua Symonette congratulates Jared Lucero after Lucero recovered a fumble during their game against Arbor View Thursday, September 1, 2011. Palo Verde came out on top 14-7.

Palo Verde beats Arbor View, 14-7

Palo Verde High football players celebrate their 14-7 victory against visiting Arbor View Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011, by holding up the Thursday Night Lights trophy. The winner of the Thursday television game each week receives a trophy. Launch slideshow »

Palo Verde defeats Arbor View, 14-7

KSNV reports on high school football team Palo Verde's victory against Arbor View, 14-7. Sept. 1, 2011.

Prep Sports Now

Palo Verde, Arbor View renew rivalry

Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Case Keefer and Ray Brewer recap the action from the first week of high school football and look ahead to another slate of games. Popular topics include this week's Arbor View vs. Palo Verde showdown and last week's stunning upset by Bonanza over Silverado.

It’s the first day of September and public schools have only been in session four days.

Still, you can easily argue the Palo Verde High football team won its Northwest Division on Thursday with a 14-7 victory against league rival Arbor View.

Sure, six of the league’s nine teams have yet to play their first game, but with Palo Verde and Arbor View the clear-cut favorites to take the league title, the host Panthers’ victory potentially will be tough for others to overcome.

Last year, Palo Verde topped Arbor View 17-0 in a game in which the teams entered with 9-0 records to create great end-of-the-year drama. That likely won’t be the case this year with Palo Verde, which has one regular season loss the last four years, comfortably in the driver’s seat.

Arbor View, which is ranked No. 4 in the Sun’s top-10 ranking, scored the game’s first touchdown on a 4-yard run from Donnie Gaskin at the 10:25 mark of the second quarter. The score was set up on Arbor View’s biggest play of the night, with senior Roderick Eason racing 63 yards to bring the ball inside the Palo Verde 5-yard line.

Arbor View enjoyed the lead for about 15 seconds.

Palo Verde’s KamBrenn Heatley returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown to even the game at seven, and a stingy Palo Verde defense didn’t allow Arbor View inside its 20-yard line the rest of the night.

“We had great momentum, then we handed it right back to them (with the kickoff return),” Arbor View coach Dan Barnson said. “That is the thing that hurt us.”

The game-winning touchdown came courtesy of Lee Griggs, who scampered 38 yards for a touchdown on a fourth-down play with 2:23 to play in the half.

The Palo Verde defense took control in the second half by recovering three fumbles to keep the Arbor View offense stuck in idle. Also, the Panthers' defensive line was seemingly in the backfield every play late in the game to record a sack or alter the running game.

“I’m just really proud our defense and how physical they played in doing their job,” Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost said.

Jared Lucero had two fumble recoveries for the Panthers and Michael Hughes had the other. Josh Symonette and Dillon Chaisson each caused fumbles, and defensive back Ryan Beaulieu had two impressive deflections in pass coverage.

The defense sealed the victory with less than 20 seconds remaining when Eric South and Symonette recorded consecutive sacks.

“It’s not just one player out there for us (defensively),” Symonette said. “That is why we are so successful. Nobody is an I-guy. It’s a team effort.”

Arbor View, which last week thoroughly beat Sunrise Region power Liberty, has shown in the first two weeks it will be a major player the rest of the season. Eason, who rushed for a game-high 124 yards and has a scholarship offer from Colorado, is one of several returning key contributors from last year’s team that advanced to the Sunset Regional semifinals.

And while the loss surely hurts, it’s important to remember this is still the first day of September and fourth day of school. There is plenty of football remaining.

“This one is going to sting a little bit,” Arbor View's Barnson said. “But the sun is going to come up tomorrow and we are going to have to get back to work.”

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