The Bulldog Girls Celebrate the victory in the State Semifinal Playoff Game securing a spot in the NIAA 3A State Championship Title Game for Girls Flag Football. (Photo: YoshiYama Photography)
Virgin Valley High School, Mesquite, NV-
The Virgin Valley High School Girls Flag Football Team remains perfect at 17-0 and will be playing for the NIAA 3A State Championship Title Game tomorrow night, Tuesday, February 22nd starting at 6:00 pm. The title game will be played at Evan Wilson Stadium at Virgin Valley High School as the Bulldogs had the higher seed and record. They will be playing Boulder City (10-5) who upset the #2 seed Moapa Valley in the other Semifinal Game, 13-12.
The #1 Nevada State ranked team has had an all-powerful performance as the ‘Dawgs have conquered most of their opponents in total domination fashion with full massacres in the scores. The ‘Dawgs were looking at a critical regular-season game playing the #2 Desert League team of Moapa Valley for the league title and even better the #1 seed in the State Playoffs. That matchup was on January 27th. The previous matchup against the Pirates resulted in a close win 18-13 on January 4th. This time was different, VVHS girls sealed the Desert League #1 ranking and cannon-balled the Pirate’s ship with a 34-0 win. The rest of the regular season games were against 3 teams, 2 with losing records; Spring Valley (8-4), Western (0-5), and Mojave (2-8). As long as they didn’t drop the ball on any of those games, they were guaranteed to be sitting pretty for the State Playoffs. They all fulfilled that requirement as they beat Spring Valley 53-12, Western 52-0, and Mojave 41-0.
“We took one game at a time,” said VVHS Head Coach Joey Bowler. “We have to set the mentality of the girls to remember that each game is different and the score is different and teams play better on different days. We just have to play one game at a time and focus on our current opponent.”
The playoffs started on Monday, February 14th, as #1 Virgin Valley was set to play #8 Eldorado for the 1st round. The ‘Dawgs gave the Sun Devils more than a “love tap” as they knocked the Sun Devils completely out cold of the State Playoffs with a score of 57-0. The Green and White Defense had 6 interceptions with 2 of them being returned for scores. Junior Aracely Lopez returned one of those for 59 yards and the touchdown. Senior Cheyann Hafen had 2 interceptions while Calla Haviland, Kelly Denninghoff, McKenzie Averett all added an interception. On Offense, QB Nina Miramontes was 11 of 17 for 126 yards while Graicee Draney had 68 rushing yards. Also, Kelly Denninghoff had 1 rushing touchdown, 1 receiving touchdown and an interception returned for a touchdown.
In the other first-round playoff games, #2 seed Moapa Valley blanked out #7 Pinecrest Academy Cadence 20-0, #3 Boulder City killed #6 Mojave 41-22, while #4 SLAM beat Spring Valley 32-12.
“Eldorado played their hearts out,” said Coach Bowler. “They had a very understaffed roster so they had to play both ways and that takes heart, but we came to play and that is what the girls did.”
The next game was playing a much more physical team in SLAM. The Bulls of SLAM came out much more physically, but the ‘Dawgs bit back with the same physicality. The defense picked up and kept the amazing arm of the SLAM QB down as they were quick into the backfield putting pressure on the star player, Lizette Valenciano. Valenciano was constantly under pressure and not able to get off passes well as the ‘Dawgs Senior Miriam Ramirez racked up 3 sacks while Freshman Mercades Jordan was constantly in the backfield and adding 2 tackles for loss.
On offense, the ‘Dawgs found the endzone 6 times with Aracely Lopez scoring 2 by air and 1 by ground. Call Haviland added two more and Kelly Denninghoff added 1. The ‘Dawgs chalked up a total of massive 416 total yards with 157 by air and a stunning 259 rushing. Near the end of the 4th quarter SLAM’s star QB was able to complete a few deep passes of 40+ yards to finally get a score and 6 on the board for the Bulls. However, a little too late as the ‘Dawgs held on defense and ended the game with an interception by Haviland. The Girls erupted in smiles and laughs with hugs and celebrations knowing they had secured the spot in the State Championship with a final score of 41-6.
The other semifinal was between #2 seed Moapa Valley and #3 Boulder City at MVHS Jeff Keel Stadium. What looked like consistent play by Moapa Valley as they led 12-6 deep into the 4th quarter, fans and players were thinking of victory being sealed when Boulder City with less than 1 minute left broke open a play that went for almost 70 yards to tie the game and then Boulder City converted the extra point play to close out the game with the big upset over the Pirates, 13-12.
“SLAM was a lot more physical and aggressive,” said Coach Bowler. “They were a much better team, but our girls played probably the best game they have all season. They played extremely well.”
Bowler was in shock that Boulder City had upset Moapa Valley realizing that the usual matchup of State Championships of MVHS vs VVHS was not in the near future.
“I am in shock of the Moapa loss but it doesn’t matter who we play,” said Bowler. “We will come out and take this championship game with the same mentality all season… One game at a time.”
Virgin Valley met Boulder City earlier in the regular season on the 25th of January leaving the Eagles scoreless and grounding the Eagles from any flight with a victory of 34-0. Virgin Valley has been in State Championships for flag football, losing in all four, since the sport has been added to NIAA sports in 2017.
“I am really proud of the girls as we have worked them hard all season, but I keep reminding them one game at a time,” said Coach Bowler.
The NIAA 3A State Championship is Tuesday night at 6:00 pm featuring Mesquite’s nationally ranked Flag Football team and new pride of the city at home on the Evan Wilson VVHS Field. The perfect season and perfect team are looking at the State Title with the mentality of “one game at a time”… However, only one more game… one more game.