Years as a Sunset Region football power couldn’t keep Palo Verde from being shut out by Centennial in the team’s season opener last week.
So the Panthers are not about to dwell on that loss as they prepare for another tough contest.
Palo Verde is looking to put last week’s 16-0 loss behind it as the No. 9 Panthers host No. 3 Green Valley at 7 Friday night.
“I believe every week is a new challenge,” said senior offensive lineman Joseph Laurita, one of two returning starters on the line. “You can’t be banking on last year, last week or the last day. It doesn’t matter until you step on the field. Whoever comes out the most intense and hungry (will win).”
Green Valley provides another tough test for Palo Verde, which has a five-week stretch of non-league games featuring teams currently ranked in the top 10 by area coaches.
“This week it’s Green Valley, and that’s the only team we can play,” Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost said. “The other game’s behind us now, and we’ve just got to come to play.”
Last year’s matchup with Green Valley was a good one, with the Gators edging the Panthers 42-41 in overtime. It was Palo Verde’s only regular-season loss.
“It was the one game that we last last year in overtime,” Rost said. “They’re a lot different team and we’re a lot different team. We’ve got to pad up on Friday and see what happens.”
One constant from last year for Green Valley is quarterback Christian Lopez, who is in his third year as the team’s starter. Having a three-year quarterback is one thing Palo Verde is missing this season. Darwin Rost’s son, Parker, started the last three seasons for the Panthers before graduating and leaving the position unsettled. Parker Rost passed for 1,087 yards and 17 TDs last season and ran for 346 yards and 11 TDs in earning Northwest League Offensive MVP honors.
“I know what that’s all about,” Darwin Rost said of having a three-year quarterback. “We had one, and of course, he’s moved on. And right now, we’ve got four kids battling for one spot.”
Logan Hutchison started the opener and was 3-for-8 passing for 18 yards with one interception. Darwin Rost said Graeson Vereen, T.J. Webb and Zach Ortale also are competing for the quarterback role.
“The guy that’s actually performing and getting it done is the guy that’s going to start,” Darwin Rost said. “We’re running everybody to see who can do it.”
Lopez should keep the pressure on the Panthers defense. He passed for 3,455 yards and 34 TDs an added 10 rushing touchdowns as a junior.
But it may be the Green Valley defense that provides the biggest challenge for Palo Verde. The Gators held Charter Oak to just 12 rushing yards on 25 carries last week. Palo Verde’s run-oriented offense was limited to 129 rushing yards on 39 carries last week.
“It’s going to be a test for us,” Darwin Rost said. “Always our goal is to get better every week. And there’s only one way to go from last week, and that’s definitely up.”
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4587. Follow him on Twitter: @DamonSeiters.