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Shadow Ridge, Palo Verde continue ‘rivalry’ for flag football title

The two regular-season meetings between Shadow Ridge and Palo Verde’s flag football teams went down to the wire.

The Mustangs won both matchups. Each was decided by seven points or less.

No. 1 seed Shadow Ridge (21-2) and No. 3 seed Palo Verde (20-4) will renew their rivalry one more time in the Class 5A state title game at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Shadow Ridge.

“It’s going to be a tough game where we definitely need to be prepared,” Shadow Ridge coach Matt Nighswonger said. “We need to be ready to fight till the end. I’m excited (for) these kinds of rivalry games and getting a team like that in the state championship that’s a rival.”

Shadow Ridge has won the last two 5A state titles. Palo Verde is looking for its first, which would require reversing the result of the teams’ first two meetings.

The Mustangs defeated the Panthers 12-6 on Dec. 29 in the championship game of the Mustang Rodeo tournament. Shadow Ridge won 34-27 in overtime on Jan. 29 in its only league meeting with Palo Verde.

“As coaches, we were kind of hoping (to play Shadow Ridge),” Palo Verde coach Rick Eurich said. “Shadow and us, we have been battling it out since the beginning of time with flag football. … It’s exciting. I respect them. I think they respect us as two good programs that have history. I don’t know if there’s anybody else I’d rather play for a title.”

Shadow Ridge returned most of its players from last year’s title team. Sophomore Jaylani Palmer has 31 total touchdowns and 13 interceptions on defense. Senior Kyla Moore is one of the state’s top running backs with 2,257 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns.

“To have that kind of depth and ability for different girls to step up at different times, it does make us a more complete team at times,” Nighswonger said. “It’s hard to keep taking everyone’s best shot. We’ve obviously had two really good years with back-to-back championships and everyone’s looking at us when we’re on their schedule.”

Palo Verde has the talent to match Shadow Ridge. The Panthers are led by a strong junior class. Tia Brown scored 33 touchdowns. Madeline West recorded 17 sacks. Alexis Manzo grabbed 21 interceptions.

“We’re kind of the underdog this year and I think we like that feeling a little bit better,” Eurich said. “It’s a little less pressure I think than normal when you’re sitting on top. It’s probably a good thing for us. Sitting in that third seed was kind of unexpected, but overall probably the best thing that could have happened for us.”

In 4A, Coronado will host Arbor View in the title game. The Cougars (19-2) defeated the Aggies (20-8) twice in the regular season.

Coronado won 40-12 in a tournament Dec. 28 and 36-6 in a regular-season meeting Jan. 19.

In 3A, Virgin Valley (20-2) will host Boulder City (16-2). Virgin Valley has won the last two 3A titles and defeated Boulder City 18-0 on Jan. 31.

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

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