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Panthers run past Spartans

What good is a Sinatra who doesn’t sing?

What good is a Picasso who doesn’t paint?

What good is a quarterback who doesn’t pass?

Ask Palo Verde’s Jahari Selmon.

He’s thrown more blocks this season than passes, but he’s happy — and the happiness is justified, seeing as his second-ranked Panthers are 9-0 (6-0 Northwest) after their 41-0 home victory over No. 9 Cimarron-Memorial (6-3, 4-2).

Sure, Selmon would like to throw the ball more. But with a stable of able backs, he won’t complain — often.

“I’m not gonna lie, it’s kinda hard being more of a team player than a quarterback,” said the 140-pound sophomore, after he completed both of his passes Thursday night. “We know we have tons and tons and tons of backs, and we have for years. When I’m old and dusty, we’re still gonna have backs that will put their work in. And as long as we have backs, I don’t care.”

And Palo Verde definitely has backs.

Big backs and small backs. Pounders, cutters, mashers and slashers.

Each of the Panthers’ three main ball carriers — juniors Sidney Hodge and Chaz Thomas and sophomore Tyrone Blake — got to have his fun Thursday night. Thomas had 12 rushes for 169 yards, Hodge had eight for 121 and Blake had seven for 107.

When told after the game that each broke the century mark, the three responded with high-fives, wide smiles and the reaction “For real?”

“It doesn’t matter who gets the ball, as long as we win,” Thomas said. “If I get 2 yards, but Tyrone gets 500, I’m gonna be happy.”

But on Thursday night, it was a family affair. Each of the three Panthers backs broke free for multiple long runs, with Thomas doing the most damage. The biggest of the three at 5 feet 10 inches, 195 pounds, Thomas didn’t need to go east-west; he trucked over dangling tacklers.

Not that Thomas doesn’t have speed.

Twice in the second half, he took the ball up the middle and through the secondary. Twice, his late burst accelerated him beyond Spartans cornerbacks.

“I always talk about ‘track speed,’ ” coach Darwin Rost said. “We have a lot of kids on this team on the track team. I like that speed. Every good football program — when you look at the Florida States and the Miamis — all of them have football kids who do track.”

One of the reasons for the Panthers’ rushing success?

Selmon’s blocking.

Despite giving up 100 pounds to many defensive linemen, Selmon is one of the lead blockers in Palo Verde’s double-wing attack.

“The quarterback has to be a team leader,” Selmon said happily.

Now if only he could throw a few more times.

Contact reporter Jon Gold at jgold@reviewjournal.com or (702) 380-4587.

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