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Wright totes load for Palo

Palo Verde’s football team consistently has spread the carries in recent years.

In the previous two seasons, the Panthers have had seven players top 100 rushing yards in a game.

But through three games this year, only one player has run for more than 100 yards for the season.

It hasn’t mattered, as senior running back Brandon Wright has led the second-ranked Panthers to a 3-0 start. Wright has rushed for 639 yards and nine touchdowns.

“It seems like we’ve always had two or three guys back there,” Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost said. “But Brandon’s just a special guy.

“He does a lot of good things for us, and he’s been out of the gates fast for us.”

Wright and company will try to keep their win streak going when they travel to Centennial (2-1, 0-1 Northwest League) at 7 tonight.

Palo Verde (1-0 Northwest) has had at least three players top 850 rushing yards in each of the last two seasons, including three who rushed for 1,000 or more. Wright said his individual success isn’t by design, and he’d gladly trade carries for more wins.

“I’m not trying to be selfish and I’m not trying to seem like I’m better than the team or anything,” Wright said. “I want people to get as many carries as I’m getting just as long as we’re getting it done.

“As long as we go out there and get it done, I couldn’t care less if I don’t have 1,000 yards on the season.”

Wright has been a big reason the Panthers are averaging 47.3 points. He also plays cornerback, though Rost said he tries to pick spots to rest Wright on defense.

“We have some other kids that can rotate in to keep him fresh, because he is probably 95 percent of our offense right now,” Rost said.

While the offense has been impressive, Rost pointed to the defense as the key to the early success. The Panthers have allowed 53 points this season, but Rost pointed out that many of those came late in the team’s blowout wins over Green Valley (62-20) and Mojave (56-12).

“Everyone kind of focuses on our offense, but our defense has done a really good job for us this year,” Rost said. “I know we’ve given up points, but the starters are over there drinking water when we’ve given up the points.”

Senior linebacker Austin Whalen expects a physical battle with the Bulldogs, who are coming off a 31-18 loss to Arbor View. Centennial led
15-10 entering the fourth quarter in that game.

“They try to come out and smack you in the mouth,” Whalen said. “We have to stay disciplined, (make) no mistakes and we can’t shoot ourselves in the foot.”

Wright said he’s impressed by what he’s seen of Centennial on film.

“Centennial, they’re just so different this year,” Wright said. “They look like a really good team. They’ve got a lot of athletes, and they have a lot of players that can get stuff done.

“They look so motivated, like they have something to prove.”

Wright knows the team will be motivated to try to stop him. He transferred from Centennial to Palo Verde before his junior year. Whalen and defensive lineman Joshua Symonette transferred from Centennial to Palo Verde before this season.

“I think they have a little extra motivation, because there’s three of us that transferred over here,” Whalen said. “So they’ll want to show us that they can win without us, that we weren’t a big deal to them.”

Wright said it won’t be awkward taking on his former school.

“I believe that I’m a Palo Verde Panther,” Wright said. “I had two years over there, but I feel like this is home. That was just vacation.”

Contact Prep Sports Editor Damon Seiters at dseiters@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4587.

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