After helping second-ranked Palo Verde preserve another unbeaten regular season with a 17-0 victory at No. 5 Arbor View on Friday night, Donald Anderson put to rest any notion that winning could ever become stale.
"It never gets old. We love it," the senior quarterback said after rushing for 84 yards on eight carries to help hand the Aggies their first loss.
The Panthers have gone unbeaten during the regular season three of the last four years, suffering one loss last year.
"That's our goal, to go undefeated every year. As the year goes on, that's what keeps us going through the season," Anderson said.
The Panthers (10-0, 8-0 Northwest League) again earned the league's top playoff seed. The Aggies (9-1, 7-1) didn't make it easy.
Neither team was able to score in the first three quarters, though Arbor View had the better chances. Palo Verde finally broke through on a 51-yard touchdown run by Brandon Wright just over a minute into the final period.
"We knew we were going to be in a dogfight before we even got here, so we just strapped it up and said, 'Let's go,' " said Wright, who gained 96 yards on 11 carries. "At halftime ... we said, 'If we want to be champs, we've got to get this thing going.' "
Arbor View outgained Palo Verde 138-64 in the first half, but missed a field goal and had a pass intercepted in the end zone by Ryan Beaulieu.
"At halftime, some of our senior captains really stepped up in the locker room where they got really vocal, and they really hadn't done that all year," Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost said. "I was totally impressed with that. Hats totally off to those kids. They really wanted it."
The Panthers came out in the second half and looked more like the team that has dominated the Northwest for four years, holding the upstart Aggies to 29 yards after the break.
Palo Verde extended its lead to 10-0 on a 27-yard field goal by Garrett Dunlap with 4:48 to play, and the game was essentially wrapped up when Arbor View fumbled the ensuing kickoff after trying to run a trick play on the return. Garrett Rost concluded the scoring with a 1-yard run three plays later.
The Aggies fell short in their quest for a league crown but will host Durango in a first-round playoff game Friday as the Northwest's No. 2 seed.
"You want to win the first division championship in your school's history, but we had a lot of firsts this year," Arbor View coach Dan Barnson said.
Palo Verde will host Spring Valley on Friday, but the win means the Panthers will have home-field advantage even if they meet the Southwest's top-seed, Bishop Gorman.
■ Spring Valley 38, Clark 12 -- At Spring Valley, senior quarterback Jordan Cox accounted for four touchdowns, leading the Grizzlies (6-4, 5-3 Southwest) to a Sunset Region playoff berth.
Cox rushed for touchdowns of 65 and 22 yards and passed for scores of 16 yards to Christian Morimando and 20 to Tim Craig. Cox had 96 yards on the ground and 123 passing.
Senior running back Christopher Jackson rushed for 121 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown, for Clark (3-7, 3-5), whose slim playoff hopes were dashed.
-- William Terrill
■ Bishop Gorman 56, Durango 6 -- At Gorman, Jarrett Solomon passed for 243 yard, including three TDs in the first quarter, and the top-ranked Gaels (9-2, 8-0 Southwest) got ready for the playoffs by beating the Trailblazers (7-3, 6-2).
Gorman, which built a 35-0 lead in the second quarter, will host Northwest fourth seed Shadow Ridge (6-4, 4-4) in the Sunset Region playoffs Thursday.
Southwest third seed Durango (7-3, 6-2) will visit Northwest second-seed Arbor View (9-1, 7-1).
Gorman allowed points for the first time since Oct. 1 but gained 335 yards rushing and 243 passing.
-- Neil Grepke
■ Cheyenne 52, Legacy 28 -- At Legacy, the Desert Shields (4-5, 3-5 Northwest) scored 22 points in the fourth quarter, preventing the Longhorns (4-6, 3-5) from gaining a Sunset playoff bid.
Legacy took a 28-22 halftime lead on four second-quarter TD runs by fullback D'Andre Hughes (11, 22, 2, 44 yards). Cheyenne went ahead for good on Jalen Walker's 2-yard TD run and a 2-point conversion for a 30-28 lead.
Drew Calhoun scored on runs of 1 and 10 yards and led Cheyenne with 118 yards on 12 carries. Hughes led the Longhorns with 130 yards on 18 carries.
-- Vincent Hernandez
■ Bonanza 48, Sierra Vista 18 -- At Sierra Vista, Dasean Martin rushed for four touchdowns in the first half and gained 205 yards on 13 carries to guide the Bengals (5-5, 4-4 Southwest) past the Mountain Lions (1-9, 1-7).
Bengals quarterback Sterling Sprau scored twice in the third quarter, on a 9-yard run and a 52-yard pass from backup QB Brett Doyle on a fake punt.
-- Brian Danise
■ Cimarron-Memorial 34, Mojave 19 -- At Mojave, Christian Brown rushed for 276 yards and five TDs to power the Spartans (4-6, 4-4 Northwest) over the Rattlers (0-9, 0-8) in the teams' season finale.
Brown scored on runs of 63, 19, 14, 3 and 37 yards. Mojave's touchdowns came on passes of 26, 20 and 27 yards from Trevonte Veal to Bryant Lewis.
-- Adam Berchin
■ Western 20, Pahrump Valley 13 -- At Pahrump, Allen Davis rushed for two touchdowns as the Warriors (3-6, 2-6 Southwest) beat the Trojans (0-10, 0-8).
Pahrump freshman A.J. Segura threw a 26-yard TD pass to Cody Keasling. Segura, making his varsity debut, completed 11 of 19 passes for 141 yards.
-- Don McDermott