Moapa Valley had just won its state semifinal football game against Churchill County when coach Brent Lewis gave his team a history lesson.
In the 2007 regular season, Virgin Valley “kicked our butts on our home field,” Lewis said, forcing the Pirates to fix the areas in which they were dominated.
The changes worked, with Moapa Valley defeating Virgin Valley in the Class 3A state championship game that year. Lewis said he knows Virgin Valley is doing the same thing this season as his team did in 2007, after the Pirates won a 46-28 decision in the annual Hammer Game.
The rivals will meet again at 7 p.m. Thursday at Allegiant Stadium with the 3A crown on the line.
“With Virgin Valley, it’s a chess match,” Lewis said. “When you’re facing the same team twice, it’s the team that lost is usually the one that makes adjustments, and the one that won doesn’t think it needs to. We’re definitely not thinking that.”
As if playing a team’s biggest rival for a state championship isn’t enough, both teams have a short week to get ready.
It’s even worse for Virgin Valley because it was on the road for Saturday’s 23-16 win over Elko, which coach Matt Woods described as “the most physical team we’ve played this season.”
“We’ve had to try to get the soreness out and healthy again,” Woods said. “We’ve had to manage practice where (Monday) we were only in helmets. We might get a little hitting in, but we want to make sure everybody stays healthy.”
Moapa Valley (11-0) has been the dominant 3A team all season and outscored its opponents 487-136. Other than a 35-28 win over 4A Clark, Virgin Valley was the only team to play the Pirates within 20 points.
The Bulldogs (10-2) know they’re the underdog, but they heard the same thing when they played at Pahrump Valley two weeks ago and then at Elko.
“We’re not worried about what anybody is saying except for in our locker room,” Woods said. “We have plenty of confidence in ourselves and our ability.”
Both teams would be excited about playing anybody for a state title, but both coaches admitted it’s more special because of the opponent.
And they’re pleased not only about the opportunity to play at Allegiant Stadium but also being the last game of the day. That will allow both teams the best chance to have as many fans as possible at the game.
“Both of our valleys want to win so stinking bad it’s not even funny,” Lewis said. “I don’t know how many years of Moapa Valley alums are planning to be there, but awesome for us to be the last game. I think it’s taken some years for 3A football to get the credibility it deserves, but I think the (Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association) is going to benefit from putting our game last.”
State championship games
At Allegiant Stadium
The Meadows (11-1) vs. Yerington (8-0), 9 a.m.
Bishop Gorman (11-1) vs. McQueen (10-1), 12:20 p.m.
Silverado (11-0) vs. Shadow Ridge (9-2), 3:40 p.m.
Moapa Valley (11-0) vs. Virgin Valley (10-2), 7 p.m.
At Bishop Gorman
Pahranagat Valley (9-1) vs. Eureka (6-0), noon