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2021 High School Football Media Day

Steve Marcus

Moapa Valley Pirates Austin Heiselbetz responds to a question during the Las Vegas Sun High School Football Media Day at the Red Rock Resort in Summerlin Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021. STEVE MARCUS

The class 3A high school football state championship game will feature two programs overly familiar with each other.

Moapa Valley of Overton and Virgin Valley of Mesquite both won semifinal games Saturday to advance to next week’s championship game, where the neighboring towns will play for the third time in six months.

Moapa Valley beat visiting Churchill County of Northern Nevada 42-21 in the semifinals, using 293 passing yards and three touchdowns from quarterback Peyton Neilson and limiting the opposition to about 200 total yards.

Virgin Valley won in Elko, 23-17.

Gunner Redd returned from injury for Moapa Valley to catch three passes for 98 yards and a touchdown, and Austin Heiselbetz had five receptions for 134 yards and a score. Heiselbetz also rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown.

Landon Wrzesinski and Ben Jolley contributed touchdowns for the Pirates, who remained undefeated on the season.

“It was big getting Gunner Redd back for us,” Moapa Valley coach Brent Lewis said. “When we have all of our weapons we are tough to stop.”

Moapa Valley has won 16 all-time state championships — the first in 1943; the most recent in 2014. Virgin Valley has won 11 titles, including in 2006 when it knocked off Moapa Valley in the championship game.

The towns are apart 40 miles apart and rivals at all sports, in all age groups. In football, they annually play in the “Hammer Game,” which was won Oct. 22 by Moapa Valley 46-28. Moapa Valley also beat Virgin Valley during the spring, when a six-week season was contested after the fall 2020 campaign was delayed because of the pandemic.

The rivalry resumes at 7 p.m. Thursday at Allegiant Stadium in the last of three championship games at the nearly $2 billion NFL facility near the Strip.

Article written by #LasVegasSun


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