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May 19, 2019

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high school football:

Moapa Valley fights off Mojave to earn spot in Division I-A state semifinals

Sollenberger Classic - Moapa Valley vs. Show Low

Sam Morris

Moapa Valley running back Kasen Hughes gets by the Show Low defense during their game at the Sollenberger Classic Saturday, August 20, 2011 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Moapa upset the Arizona Class 4A state champions 28-26.

Prep Sports Now

When basketball coaching fails, it's back to football talking

Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer recount their experience coaching the Las Vegas All-Star team against Findlay Prep in basketball and move on to football talk in the 11th Prep Sports Now of the year.

The Moapa Valley High football team typically wins games behind the running of senior tailback Conner Mortensen.

However, he’s not the Pirates’ only capable rusher. Take Friday night’s 36-32 victory against visiting Mojave to send the Pirates to the state semifinals for the seventh straight season as an example.

Mojave was able to partially contain Mortensen, but they couldn’t stop senior Kasen Hughes.

Hughes rushed for 193 yards and two touchdown on 16 carries, helping Moapa Valley open a 16-0 lead in never trailing against a Mojave team that fought until the final whistle.

“We are blessed with more than one good running back,” Moapa Valley coach Brent Lewis said. “I don’t think you can stop all three (Mortensen, Hughes and Sean McConnell) of them on one night.”

Mortensen finished with two touchdowns and 54 yards on 20 carries, and McConnell added 52 yards on eight carries.

Mojave forced two key turnovers in the first half in getting back into the game. First, they recovered a poor snap on a punt inside the Moapa Valley 10-yard line to setup an easy touchdown. Then, with Moapa Valley ahead 23-13 and close to adding to the lead before halftime, Deandre Armstrong recorded an interception in the end zone to halt the scoring drive.

“Give them credit. They played us tough-as-nails in the second half,” Lewis said. “We had them on the ropes early and couldn’t put them away. We gave them a little life and they believed they could beat us.”

Mojave quarterback Zack Arave competed 11-of-19 for 249 yards and three touchdowns in helping the Rattlers rally in the second half. Marcus Hines had three catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns, and returned a kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown in the final minute.

It capped the best season in school history for Mojave, which won their first playoff game in school history last week by beating Desert Pines. The school opened in 1996 and this was just the second time they reached the postseason.

With several younger players in key positions, coach Joe Delgado knows this season is just the beginning of what he feels will be fielding a competitive team in the Division I-A for seasons to come.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our team,” Delgado said in a text message. “We have the opportunity to win it and didn’t capitalize. There is no doubt we left every ounce of our being on the field tonight.”

Moapa Valley (11-1), which is riding an 11-game winning streak, will host Lowry of Northern Nevada in the state semifinals next week. It’s the fourth straight year they’ve host Lowry in the semifinals.

“We needed a game like this. We really did,” Lewis said. “Our backs were up against the wall and we didn’t respond as good as I hoped.”

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

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