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Pahranagat Valley looks for 3rd straight state football title

Brett Hansen doesn’t need to talk to his Pahranagat Valley football team about expectations.

Every Panther who puts on a uniform knows the only goal each season is to add another state championship to the school’s resume.

Pahranagat Valley has won 22 state titles, more than any other school in Nevada, including the past two and 14 since 2001.

“We don’t talk about it,” Hansen said of the Panthers’ standards. “It’s kind of known. I think they feel pressure. I’d assume they do, just because of the tradition of the program, but I don’t necessarily address it or put any pressure on them.”

Pahranagat Valley lost 11 seniors off last season’s team, but Hansen said he’s seeing leadership from this year’s seven-player senior class.

He pointed to four seniors who have taken the leadership reins, starting with quarterback Braiden Maxwell. As a backup last season, Maxwell was 13-for-28 passing for 137 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions and ran for 207 yards and a score.

Jordan Fiatoa and Carson Hansen, who both will play running back and defensive back, and offensive and defensive lineman Shawn Twitchell also help form the leadership nucleus.

But the Panthers’ success will rely heavily on how quickly their younger players develop. They have only one junior, so the rest of the roster is filled with freshmen and sophomores.

“We’ve had more experienced teams, deeper teams and faster teams,” Brett Hansen said. “We have a lot of work to do and a long way to go, but the pieces are there. We’ll just have to try and adapt to our strengths. There have been teams here that have been successful that have been in the same boat.”

The Panthers’ young players figure to grow up in a hurry because of a grueling first half of the schedule. They open against Williams (Arizona), then face Spring Mountain, which won state championships in 2016 and 2018 and is always a wild card because it has a new team every year and this year a new coach in Troy Huggins.

After that, Pahranagat Valley will meet an Indian Springs team Brett Hansen said has been “off the radar,” but brought back coach Sope Faga, who led the Thunderbirds to state championships in 1997 and 1998. Then there’s a rising GV Christian team that won a state basketball title and hopes to transfer those winning ways to the football field, before a rematch of last year’s state championship game against Eureka.

“It’s huge to play a high level of competition,” Brett Hansen said. “Since I’ve taken over as head coach, one of the things I’ve done is to try and find a little higher caliber of opponent. It provides more motivation and more drive to have something to look forward to. We have to be at our best.”

Contact Jason Orts at jorts@reviewjournal.com. Follow @SportsWithOrts on Twitter.

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