Palo Verde football coach Darwin Rost pondered one big question as he sent his players onto Green Valley’s field for their season opener Friday.
Senior running back Brandon Wright answered it in a hurry.
Wright rushed for 292 yards and four touchdowns on 12 carries to lead the Panthers to a convincing 62-20 victory over the Gators.
Perhaps more importantly, Rost’s pregame nerves about offensive production had been calmed by the end of the first quarter.
“You just never know what to expect on opening night,” said Rost, who lost several key offensive players to graduation. “This is a new group, so you don’t know how everyone’s going to jel. I thought we looked OK.”
Wright, who gained 219 yards on 10 first-half carries, made an immediate impression by capping the Panthers’ first drive with a 44-yard touchdown run.
After Jonathan Maxwell extended the lead to 14-0 with an 18-yard run, the Gators turned the ball over on downs and Wright made them pay with a 65-yard touchdown.
“I give credit to my line, fullbacks and wings,” said Wright, who added touchdowns of 68 and 29 yards. “But we can still get better. Our goal is to get better each week.”
The Panthers were as good as they needed to be Friday. By the time Ryan Beaulieu intercepted a Paul McKay pass and returned it 32 yards for a 28-0 lead, Rost was already smiling.
Wright, who touched the ball only twice in the second half, scored later in the second quarter and again in the third. Chaisson Prescott’s 12-yard touchdown on a fumble recovery made it 49-0.
Palo Verde, which scored TDs on six of its first eight possessions, never had to punt. The defense forced four turnovers to keep the Gators from putting together a serious threat.
Eric South rushed for a third-quarter touchdown to pad the Panthers’ lead and Donald Anderson returned a kickoff for an 85-yard TD minutes later.
Green Valley got on the board against Palo Verde’s bench, scoring on a 25-yard run by Rakeem Griffin late in the third and two 12-yard runs by Stefan Vandyke in the fourth.
Aaron Jackson led Green Valley with 106 yards on 15 carries, and Griffin rushed four times for 82 yards.
■ Basic 41, Boulder City 7 — At Basic, Vince Carducci passed for four TDs, all in the first half, and the Wolves routed the Eagles in the annual Jug Game.
Carducci completed 15 of 24 passes for 232 yards. His scoring passes went to DeVonte Boyd for 27 yards, Matthew Dembinski for 16 and Darian Spencer for 8 and 22.
Boyd caught five passes for 78 yards and rushed for a 6-yard score. Spencer had five catches for 75 yards.
Boulder City scored on Matt Combs’ 70-yard kickoff return in the first quarter.
— Tristan Aird
■ Foothill 48, Bonanza 14 — At Bonanza, quarterback Parker Riggin and Darius Gates hooked up for two first-half touchdowns to spark the Falcons.
Riggin found Gates along the left sideline for a tiebreaking 71-yard connection and then a 9-yard TD in the second quarter.
Riggin completed his first five passes and was 10 of 16 for 152 yards, all by halftime. Gates had three catches for 87 yards.
Connor Afoa rushed for 115 yards on 13 carries, including a 15-yard touchdown, and Kyle Keplinger ran for TDs of 8 and 13 yards and had 100 yards on eight carries. The Falcons had a 412-162 total yardage edge.
Foothill also scored on Cole Lancaster’s fumble recovery in the end zone and Ryan Call’s 29-yard interception return. Keegan Buck made two sacks.
Dasean Martin ran for a 56-yard TD on Bonanza’s first offensive play and hauled in a 70-yard TD from Sterling Sprau.
— Tim Guesman
■ Faith Lutheran 26, Fountain Valley (Calif.) 23 — At Faith Lutheran, Joe Portaro passed for 296 yards and three touchdowns, including the 22-yard winner to Brett Lubbe with 23 seconds to play, and the Crusaders rallied past the Barons.
Faith Lutheran’s Brad Pearson forced a fumble by Montana Merhoff and Lubbe recovered at the Barons 46-yard line with 1:14 to play.
Portaro threw a 14-yard pass to Lubbe to convert on fourth-and-10. Four plays later, Portaro scrambled and found Lubbe over the middle for the winning score. It was Portaro’s 51st pass attempt and 24th completion.
Faith Lutheran rallied after blowing a 19-10 lead, which it gained midway through the third quarter when unintended receiver Tanner Dupree caught a tipped pass for a 10-yard TD on his back in the end zone.
Justin Dannan raced for a 79-yard TD run on Faith Lutheran’s first offensive play from scrimmage.
Lubbe had nine catches for 110 yards and Don Pearson caught eight for 117 and a TD.
— Brennan Karle
■ Arbor View 42, Rancho 7 — At Rancho, Jordan Godman ran for 100 yards and three touchdowns in the first half as the Aggies coasted past the Rams.
Arbor View kept the ball for nearly 16 minutes in the half, outgaining Rancho 261-90, and Godman supplied scoring runs of 11, 43 and 15 yards.
Justin Nehls threw TD passes to Steve Burns (11 yards) and Roderick Eason (59). The Aggies rushed for 352 yards.
Rancho’s Will Gosse-Gardet scored on an 8-yard run.
— Sam Leeper
■ Desert Oasis 32, Valley 0 — At Valley, Trevon Barnes passed for a touchdown and ran for two as the Diamondbacks blanked the Vikings.
Barnes completed 5 of 10 passes for 93 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown to sophomore Jordyn Compenas, who had 87 yards on three catches.
Desert Oasis compiled 338 rushing yards, led by sophomore Devin Fortenberry with 140 and a touchdown on 19 carries. Fullback Angelo Bianco supplied 65 yards and a TD.
— Sean Walker
■ Centennial 48, Clark 13 — At Centennial, Willie White scored on runs of 25, 9, 80 and 12 yards on only seven carries, guiding the Bulldogs past the Chargers.
White, who finished with 132 yards, scored twice on Centennial’s first four plays from scrimmage. Taj Cole made it 21-0 with a 3-yard run.
In the third quarter, the Bulldogs’ Coby Newton ran for a 32-yard score and White scored twice. Cole added a 65-yard TD.
Clark’s Chris Jackson ran for a TD in the first half and Derrick West scored in the third.
Greg McKinney led Clark with 84 yards on nine carries.
— Adam Berchin
■ Shadow Ridge 31, Sierra Vista 0 — At Shadow Ridge, the Mustangs’ defense and special teams keyed their shutout.
Shadow Ridge held the Mountain Lions to 25 yards in the first half, when the Mustangs’ Alex Martinez recovered a tipped punt and ran 5 yards for a touchdown. On Shadow Ridge’s next possession, Jordan Brown threw a 55-yard TD pass to Erick Thompson.
— Brian Danise
■ Spring Mountain 52, Beaver Dam (Ariz.) 12 — At Spring Mountain, Alistair Houpe scored on a 19-yard run, a 75-yard kickoff return and a 40-yard fumble return to carry the Golden Eagles past the Diamondbacks.
Houpe’s rushing TD came in the first quarter when Spring Mountain took a 24-0 lead. His other scores were in the fourth.
Malcom Brown rushed for touchdowns of 41 and 31 yards, and Matthew Trapp had scoring runs of 8 and 3 yards for the Golden Eagles.
— Brandon Donnelly
■ Desert Hills (Utah) 21, Moapa Valley 0 — At Overton, Desert Hills took advantage of six turnovers to shut out the Pirates.
Two of Chase Webster’s four completions for the Thunder went for touchdowns: 61 yards to Darian Nelson in the first quarter and 14 to Mike Needham in the third.
Corbin Fitzgerald returned an interception 22 yards for a score in the second quarter.
Moapa Valley’s Kelan Weiss passed for 120 yards.
■ Virgin Valley 16, Kanab (Utah) 0 — At Mesquite, Humberto Urias ran for 107 yards and threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Gleave as the Bulldogs blanked Kanab.
Kyler Hughes scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter and Urias added his touchdown pass in the fourth.
The Bulldogs’ defense held the Cowboys to 172 yards.
■ Laughlin 28, Indian Springs 21 — At Indian Springs, the Cougars returned an interception for a TD late in the fourth quarter to break a 21-21 tie.
Adam Reinke rushed for 179 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries for Indian Springs.
■ Diamond Ranch (Utah) 30, Agassi Prep 22 — At Hurricane, Utah, Diamond Ranch carried a 16-14 lead into halftime and led the rest of the way. Terrell Kemp and Tank Carter ran for touchdowns for Agassi Prep.In-depth high school sports coverage