Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, Oct. 17, 2014 | 11:59 p.m.
Chaparral coach Paul Nihipali said linebacker Richard Hernandez excels when the junior drops into pass coverage.
Hernandez snared three of Chaparral’s seven interceptions, Nihipali said, to help the Cowboys run away with a 41-7 win over Division I-A Sunrise foe Virgin Valley on Friday night in Mesquite.
“Richard gets into coverage real quick,” Nihipali said. “He just plays the ball well, he’s got good vision for the ball and he reacts well.”
Hernandez also scored on a fake-punt pass from Mark O’Connor.
With a Division I-A playoff bid wrapped up, the Cowboys are enjoying their finest season in recent memory. Chaparral (5-3, 4-1) owns a four-game winning streak heading into its regular-season finale at home against perennial state power Moapa Valley next week.
“Moapa’s very disciplined and consistent,” Nihipali said. “They’ll play four quarters of hard football. We’ve got to get ourselves ready for that.”
Chaparral is bound for the postseason for the first time since 2007.
“It brings a lot more and higher expectations of our kids,” Nihipali said. “That’s created a new atmosphere on our team, a new atmosphere and a new direction.”
Nihipali said Casey Acosta scored a pair of touchdowns, one a run of about 40 yards on a sweep and the other a screen pass from standout quarterback Jerome Williamson he took for about 40 yards.
Nihipali also said Ignacio Robinson ran for a TD on a play in the red zone.
“These kids now know what it takes to win games; they just need to commit,” Nihipali said. “I’m excited for the boys, and I’m excited the boys know how to win.”
Junior Paongo scored on a 2-yard run with 4:43 remaining to get Virgin Valley (3-5, 1-4) on the scoreboard.