Phoenix Ball had a career day for the White Pine High football team last Friday. The senior receiver/defensive back had five touchdowns as the Bobcats blanked Silver Stage 46-0 in the final league game of the season.
The past two weeks, with critical wins over Incline and Silver Stage, has secured the Bobcats a spot in the playoffs as the No. 4 team in the 2A North, their first playoff spot since 2015.
A huge hurdle lies in front of them though as they have to play at Yerington in the first round Nov. 8.
The Lions have won the No. 1 seed, a spot Pershing County had held for the past three years.
Coach Nick Lopez says he thinks Yerington can be beaten, “If we can get all of our kids back off the injured, ineligible or sick list. We can sure use them.”
The Bobcats last win in the playoffs was in 2011 when they were part of the Division III Southern League and beat Battle Mountain 28-19 in the state semifinals.
Against Silver Stage last week, Lopez said Ball, an all-state track performer, “had two pick sixes, two receiving touchdowns and one on a kickoff return” to spark White Pine.
“He had back-to-back interceptions for touchdowns, both of about 40 yards. The kickoff return was the opening of the second half probably covering about 80 yards. He started in the middle, then busted to the sidelines and was gone.”
The receiving touchdowns were on passes from Devan Starkey and Isaias Gonzalez
Starkey was 7-for-10 passing, 129 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Gonzalez was 2-for-8 passing for 55 yards and one touchdown, a 35-yarder to Ball.
On the ground, the Bobcats ran the ball 23 times and spread it around among eight runners. Adam Theurer gained the most yardage with 55 on four carries.
Tyler Lawrence had his fifth interception of the season. He is tied with Terrance Fetterly of Battle Mountain for the most in the 2A classification.
Lopez said after Ball had his two interceptions for touchdowns, “They started throwing to the side Lawrence is on and he got an interception also and batted down the rest.”
Stats were not posted for Silver Stage and the Nighthawks (1-6, 1-6) finish the season this Saturday hosting winless West Wendover (0-8, 0-7).
Lopez said, “We used the run and pass pretty evenly in this game with Silver State. Getting ready for the playoffs as you have to be able to do both.”
The Nighthawks have not had a winning season since at least 2003 and have lost to White Pine each year since 2016.
Before going to Yerington Nov. 8 to begin the 2A state playoffs, this Friday White Pine (5-4) hosts Needles in a non-league match. The Mustangs (3-5) have not played in Ely since 2015. But they have won nine of the last 10 meetings between teams since 2007 including the last five.