The Girls of VVHS Flag Football were escorted around Mesquite by MVFD and MPD as they won the NIAA 3A State Championship on Feb 22nd. (Photo: YoshiYama Photography)

Virgin Valley High School, Mesquite, NV-

In what was the hardest game of the season for the Lady ‘Dawgs of the VVHS Flag Football team finished in celebration as the NIAA 3A State Championship Title was obtained despite horrific and dreadful weather.

The ‘Dawgs won 13-6 over the Eagles of Boulder City on Tuesday, February 22, 2022, at VVHS Evan Wilson Stadium. The State Championship was hosted by the higher seed in coordination with NIAA as the Virgin Valley Flag Football was undefeated and #1 seed for the State Title Championship Playoffs.

The wet weather made the Bulldogs change to a rushing attack for offense in the NIAA 3A State Championship game. (Photo: Damon Jackson)

“We are unbelievably proud of the girls,” said VVHS Head Coach Joey Bowler. “We could not get a passing offense going because of the weather, but they fought hard and we finally got it done.”

After four previous attempts of winning a state championship in previous years, the VVHS Flag Football team finally wins one. In 2020, they came up just short losing in the State Championship to an undefeated Moapa Valley High School 14-8. In 2019 they again fell short to Del Sol 19-6. 2018, they met a tough Cheyenne team losing in the state championship 20-6. Finally, in 2017 they lost to Cheyenne. 2021 had no state championship due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Flag Football as an NIAA Official Sport has only competed since 2017. Virgin Valley High School has been in the state championship game every year, finally winning this season.

The weather was another story! Even though it was about 40°F and not too low in temperature, the chill factor was an assassin as the rains and the high winds caused an extreme cold for the athletes on the field. The winds hit at about 7-12 mph with just under a 1% precipitation rate for the night. Still, the athletes, coaches, and referees felt the chill with the wetness and wind.

The passing game which the ‘Dawgs relied on most of the season was almost invisible as the wet and cold conditions made passing and catching near impossible. Both the Eagles and Bulldogs were scoreless at halftime and came back switching up their game plans to a more rushing attack and relying on their defenses more. About halfway through the third period, Virgin Valley was able to get the ball in the endzone through one of their team captains, Senior Calla Haviland. However, the extra point was not good and the score was 6-0. Almost immediately afterward, the Boulder City Eagles charged down the field and found their only score through the air from their Junior Quarterback Salah Coplin to Freshman Bailey Cook for a one-yard score. Extra point no good, so the 3rd quarter ended with a 6-6 tie.

Calla Haviland makes a marvelous catch to give the Bulldogs the lead in the 4th quarter. (Photo: YoshiYama Photography)

The 4th quarter was all about defense as the defense for Virgin Valley stepped it up, rushing the BCHS Quarterback multiple times and holding the Eagles from progressing forward. The winds and rain slowed down and allowed the ‘Dawgs to get some passing offense going scoring late in the 4th quarter in the air on an awe-gripping 18-yard catch by Calla Haviland in the far corner of the endzone for the touchdown after another “heads up” catch by Haviland when a ball was deflected in the air on a 33-yard pass. The Green and White converted the extra point, connecting with Tyra Ludvigson with a short pass, and went up 13-6 with under 8 minutes left. However, it was far from over as the Eagles started moving the ball again down the field and progressing. The Bulldogs’ defensive line stepped up in the trenches and stopped the rushing game near the scrimmage line, forcing a turnover on downs. With some smart rushing plays to run out the clock, QB Nina Miramontes was able to take a knee to secure the win and finally, the title of State Champions for Virgin Valley.

“Speechless…,” said Calla Haviland when asked about how she felt winning the big game. “It was harder and more difficult because of the weather but I have learned this year that teamwork is how you win and that is what we accomplished today.”

VVHS Defense held Boulder City QB Coplin to only 3 of 9 for 15 yards passing. They held the Eagles’ rushing attack to 83 yards. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs on offense had a total of 322 yards. QB Nina Miramontes had a QB Rating of 104.4 as she completed 14 of 23 for 125 yards. Team Captain Calla Haviland had 92 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns to be the main offensive star for the Bulldogs. Aracely Lopez had 122 rushing yards. Defensive stats were pretty spread out amongst the Bulldogs as 8 Bulldogs had tackles; Mercades Jordan with 5, Calla Haviland with 5, Cheyann Hafen with 4, and Kelly Denninghoff with 3 to lead the tackles. Miriam Ramirez was the only player in the game with a sack.

Nina Miramontes rushes the ball in the hard win against Boulder City to secure the NIAA 3A State Championship. (Photo: Jason Andrus)

BCHS only had 98 total yards with their main offensive star being Salah Coplin having 15 passing yards and 37 rushing yards. The main reason the Eagles kept the game close was due to their defense who racked up tackle after tackle for 49 tackles total. They had 6 players with 5 or more tackles. The tackling leaders were Juniors Ava Payne and Breann Burgess with 10 tackles each. Ashlynn Phillips added 9 and Jordyn Wetherbee had 8.

VVHS Coach Joey Bowler said about BCHS play, “They really stepped up their game in the tournament. They upset Moapa Valley and then played us really tough today. They really gave us a challenge and congratulations to them on a great season and a really good showing here.”

As VVHS Quarterback Miramontes took a knee at the end, the ‘Dawgs erupted in smiles, laughter, and shouts of victory with tackling of each other, and even though they were cold, they felt nothing but the warmth of elation. At 8:00 pm after the presentation of the trophy, the Bulldogs met at the Oasis Parking Tower, climbing up onto and aboard the Mesquite Fire Department fire truck as the Mesquite Police Department and Fire Department with sirens and lights, escorted them down Mesquite Blvd to N Sandhill Blvd and up to Hillside Ave, and up to the campus of Virgin Valley High School to ring the Victory Bell, which has not been rung in 12 years since The State Champion VVHS Baseball Team rang it in 2010.

“Keep ringing that bell…” said Coach Bowler.

And that is what the Lady ‘Dawgs did, sounding the ringing of a perfect season, perfect team, and a perfect moment.

The Bulldogs ring the Victory Bell at the VVHS Campus; the first time in 12 years. (Photo: YoshiYama Photography)

The Virgin Valley Girls Flag Football finished the season 6-0 in Desert League Play, 18-0 Overall Record, and according to MaxPreps being #1 in the state of Nevada and #1 in the nation, beating out Shadow Ridge High School out of Vegas who took 2nd. They previously beat Boulder City 34-0 on January 25th.

The roster of the VVHS Flag Football NIAA 3A State Champions: Kelly Denninghoff, Calla Haviland, Gabby Potter, Logan Cude, Graicee Draney, Nina Miramontes, Abby Felix, Tyra Ludvigson, Miriam Ramirez, Ashlyn Shaner, Natalie Plancarte, Diana Rosales, Malia Mcomie, McKenzie Averett, Natalie Martinez, Aracely Lopez, Danny Correa, Gentree Draney, Mercades Jordan, Mattea Wahl, and Cheyann Hafen.

The Team is Coached by Head Coach Joey Bowler, Assistant Coach Robert Nelson, Brian Haviland, Sandra Bryant, Artie Shane, and Justin Ludvigson. VVHS is led by Principal Riley Frei, Assistant Principal Jaydel Wilson, Assistant Principal Stephen Waite, and Athletic Director Brian Poole.

The 2021-22 NIAA 3A State Champions for Flag Football. (Photo: Damon Jackson)

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