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Virgin Valley female football player basks in Allegiant’s lights

A few hours after Moapa Valley defeated rival Virgin Valley 27-14 in the nightcap of the four high school state championship football games Thursday at Allegiant Stadium, an email was received was Kristi Tausinga, one of the Virgin Valley parents.

It said, despite the defeat, playing on the Raiders’ field was a dream come true for a lot of young men … and one young lady.

Her daughter, Ana, a sophomore offensive lineman, had gotten onto the field for special teams plays. Raiders personnel think she is the first female to play in an official game under the translucent roof.

“The whole experience was unreal from the locker rooms to the (crowd) noise and the (bright) lights,” Ana said. “The coaches told us to soak it all in and be in the moment. The game didn’t go how we wanted, but I wouldn’t have wanted to play there with any other team than the boys I had beside me and the coaches that were coaching.”

The 15-year-old began playing football with boys in fifth grade. She also is a standout softball first baseman and comes from an athletic family — her mom was a soccer player at Winslow (Arizona) High School and her cousin, Kesni Tausinga, was a starting defensive lineman at Brigham Young.

“Coming up, she has basically played with the same set of boys,” her mom said. “This year, though, she has played with juniors and seniors she has never played with before.

“I have to say they have been a great group of boys — they’ve never treated her differently. She has never had to earn their respect; she has always had it.”

Kristi Tausinga said Thursday actually was the second time her daughter performed in an NFL stadium. When Ana was in fifth grade, she won a Punt, Pass and Kick competition at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. But her mom said they made her wear a 49ers uniform.

Around the horn

— Thursday’s prep football palooza at Allegiant Stadium brought back memories of the NAIA college basketball tournament at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri. For a reasonable price, you could watch sports all day in a pro venue and be thoroughly entertained.

When virtually the entire town of Moapa Valley turned out for Thursday’s Class 3A championship game, it reminded me of Fort Hays State (Kansas) or Rockhurst of Kansas City, Missouri, or Washburn of Topeka, Kansas, playing in the prime-time evening game at Kemper.

The only thing missing were the guys who called in sick from the nearby stockyards and would spend the entire day in the upper deck betting on Wisconsin-Stevens Point vs. Central Arkansas or the Georgetown from Kentucky.

— Nice move by the grown-ups at The Meadows who bought tickets for the entire school body so it could attend the 9 a.m. Class 2A title game.

The game ended before noon. As his dejected players boarded the team bus near the Allegiant Stadium loading dock after losing 35-26, coach Jack Concannon was asked if they had to go back to classes.

“No, but these kids would if you let them,” said Concannon, alluding to The Meadows’ 100 percent record of sending graduates to four-year colleges and universities.

— Las Vegas’ Noah Gragson will return to the Daytona 500 in February hoping to complete some unfinished business: put the Beard Motorsports No. 62 Chevrolet into the starting field for NASCAR’s biggest race.

Gragson, one of four drivers who raced for the Xfinity Series championship at Phoenix this month, was on his way to making his first Daytona 500 start for one of the sport’s smallest teams before being collected in a multicar crash in the closing laps of his 2021 qualifying race.

0:01

When Raiders defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson picked up what appeared to be a scissors from the Allegiant Field turf during last Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs, it brought back a memory of taking photos on the sidelines of a small college game many moons ago.

Spotting what appeared to be a foreign object on the field, one of the Fort Lewis College players handed a rusted arrowhead to one of the officials.

“Tough league,” the zebra said.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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