Close calls bolster Saints

Mountain View football coach Ray LeBoeuf hasn't seen or heard of anything quite like what his team has endured this season.

In their first year at the Class 2A level, the Saints have lost five games by five or fewer points -- including all of their Southern League defeats.

But Mountain View (4-6, 4-3) has rallied, winning three of its past four games to squeak into the state playoffs as the South's No. 4 seed. The Saints open the postseason at top-seeded Lincoln County at 1 p.m. Saturday.

"Seeing people with tears in their eyes and being upset losing at the very end of the game was kind of tough," Mountain View quarterback Raymond Velarde said. "But we know we can win those games."

They almost did against Lincoln County the last time the teams met, a 20-18 Lynx victory on Sept. 19.

"I knew we were right there the whole way because we were losing by two or three or four," Saints linebacker Billy Paddack said. "It was hard on the team to push so hard all game and have the lead until the last part of the game."

Even after an 0-5 start, Mountain View didn't panic. The Saints stuck with a three-pronged rushing attack that averages more than 200 yards per game. And they've held opponents under 16 points per game in their last four outings.

"We really affirmed them," LeBoeuf said. "They made mistakes trying to do the things that we asked them to do, so we just affirmed that."

But LeBoeuf is concerned this year is shaping up much like last season.

That's when the Saints handed eventual 1A state champion Tonopah its only loss during the regular season before being routed 44-8 at Tonopah in the state quarterfinals.

"We learned a tough lesson last year," LeBoeuf said. "I see a lot of the same signs this year that I saw last year. I'm concerned about where we're at."

After an 0-2 start, Lincoln County (7-3, 6-1) has won seven of eight, including its past three by at least 47 points.

Lynx coach Rich Ottley said this season's No. 1 seed is likely to face a tougher No. 4 in the first round than in years past.

"Back when the league was smaller, that 1-4 matchup was kind of a gimme game," Ottley said. "But now, there's not a lot of difference between 1 and 4."

In fact, Lincoln County, No. 2 The Meadows and No. 3 Needles (Calif.) all went 6-1 in league. But Velarde figures the Saints can play with that trio after losing to the three teams by a combined nine points.

"Last year we made the playoffs. But we want more than that this year," said Velarde, who has accounted for 2,002 yards and 18 touchdowns. "We don't want to just settle for making the playoffs. We're trying to win now."

In the other 2A Southern matchup, The Meadows (8-2) hosts defending state champion Needles (7-2).

In 3A, top-seeded Moapa Valley (7-2, 3-0) hosts No. 4 Faith Lutheran (5-4, 0-3), and No. 2 Virgin Valley (8-2, 2-1) hosts No. 3 Boulder City (5-4, 1-2).

In 1A, top-seeded Pahranagat Valley (9-0, 6-0) hosts No. 4 Indian Springs (5-4, 3-3), and No. 2 Tonopah (6-3, 5-1) hosts No. 3 Round Mountain (5-4, 4-2).

All the games begin at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Contact reporter Tristan Aird at or 702-387-5203.