Pirates Defeat SLAM

MVHS junior Ethan Stankosky runs for a 17 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter of the playoff game played against SLAM in Jeff Keel stadium on Friday night. PHOTO BY VERNON ROBISON/The Progress

The Moapa Valley High School Football team hosted the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs on Friday, Nov. 5. The Pirates beat SLAM from Las Vegas, 49-14, to advance to next week’s state semi-final game with Churchill County at Moapa Valley.

Churchill County beat North Valleys 21-14 to advance to the game.

SLAM was the 2nd seed from the Mountain Division of the southern 3A. This was a game that figured to be closer than the other 3A games played by the Pirates this year. SLAM had beaten Virgin Valley earlier in the season and had a good team; their best ever? But it wasn’t even close.

Landon Wrzesinski started the game with a 77-yard sweep. He cut up the middle of the field taking it to the endzone in the first 20 seconds of the game. CJ Andersens extra point kick gave the Pirates a 7-0 lead.

SLAM started their first series from their own 25-yardline. But that drive didn’t last long. On SLAM’s second play Anderson intercepted a pass at the SLAM 49-yardline and returned it to the 23. Peyton Neilson found Eli Cox in the endzone for a 13-yard touchdown and the Pirates led 14-0. All of this was in the opening minute of the game.

Moapa Valley would get the third touchdown of the first quarter when Wrzesinski ran 25-yards to the endzone on the Pirates third possession of the game. Anderson’s kick gave the Pirates a 21-0 lead midway through the quarter.

The ensuing kickoff was returned to the Pirate 23-yardline.The second play had a quarterback keeper around the right side go to them endzone for an apparent touchdown. But a SLAM holding call brought the ball back to the Pirate 33-yard line. SLAM threw a 33 yard touchdown pass to cut the Pirate lead to 14 after the extra point for a score of 21-7. That is where it remained until the start of the second quarter.

The first drive of the second quarter ended in a 24-yard Austin Heiselbetz run on the counter reverse giving the Pirates a 28-7 lead.

A period of back and forth with possession of the ball came next. SLAM’s next drive ended with Dustin Gordon intercepting a SLAM pass in the backfield. Nielsen would give the ball back to SLAM when he fumbled on a QB run. Sam Wheeler blocked the SLAM punt giving the ball to the Pirates at the Bulls 18-yard line. Moapa Valley didn’t have the ball long as Neilson threw an interception in the endzone returning the ball back to SLAM.

Neilson threw his second interception on the next series for the Pirates after a 21-yard QB keep. SLAM had the ball at their own 25-yard line. SLAM would punt. The score remained 28-7 by the half.

SLAM started the second half with the ball. Heiselbetz ended their drive with an interception at the Moapa Valley 16-yard line. The Pirates would score when Wrzesinski ran up the middle for 12-yards. Andersons point after was good for a 35-7 Moapa Valley lead.

The ensuing kickoff was bobbled with the Pirates recovering the ball at their own 18-yard line. Heiselbetz would score from 10-yards out with a wildcat touchdown. Andersons point after made the score 42-7, starting the running clock.

SLAM punted on their next possession but got the ball back when the return was fumbled at the Pirate 30-yardline. It took SLAM 6 plays to score on a 13-yard quarterback keeper. The extra point made the score 42-14 with just over 10 minutes to play in the game.

Ethan Stankowsky would score the final touchdown for the Pirates with a 17-yard run. Anderson’s point after completing the scoring, 49-14.

The Pirates will play Churchill County this Saturday at 1PM at Jeff Keel field and stadium. The winner will play the winner of Elko and Virgin Valley which is being played in Elko for the state championship.

If both Moapa Valley and Virgin Valley win, the game will be played in Las Vegas on Saturday. If either of the northern teams win, the game will be played in Reno at Reno High School on Saturday.

Churchill County is the current state runner-up, but won the State title over Truckee three years ago.