LOVELOCK- The Pershing County High School football team duplicated its 5-1 record from last year and secured the No. 2 seed for the second straight season representing 3A Division II in the state playoffs.
Last year they fell to Moapa Valley, 30-14, in the first round and were eliminated from the playoffs.
Now the Mustangs face Truckee.
Head coach Joe Yanni, who has guided the Mustangs for more than two decades, is comfortable. “I think right now we are stronger and possibly a little bit more talented than we were last year,” he said.
Yanni’s strategy for the Truckee game is not any different than what got them to the playoffs.
“We have to play our game,” he pointed out. “We are a very good smash mouth team.”
Pershing County’s game is an option offense that gives the defense a variety of looks. The offense concentrates on the rush and has produced 2,679 yards rushing at a solid 7.7 yards per carry this season.
The manpower shortage that short-changed the Mustangs against Manogue both seasons remains a critical factor, especially late in the game.
Pershing County is the smallest school in 3A and is scheduled to drop to 2A next autumn. Less than 20 players were on the varsity roster throughout the season.
Pershing County will attack behind senior running performer Benji Robles (5-6, 170), whom the coach believes is one of the best running backs not only in 3A but in the state.
Robles has rushed for 1,354 yards in 188 touches and was denied a 100-yard performance only once this season – against Manogue when he rushed for 99 yards.
He has 16 touchdowns and five two point conversions.
“Very few people can tackle him one-on-one,” Yanni noted. “It is going to take a big group effort to bring him down.”
Robert Robles (5-11,300) and sophomore David Robles (6-1, 275) lead the offensive and defensive lines.
The Mustangs’ defense allowed opponents 737 yards in eight games and stopped the run at an average of 3.6 yards per carry.
“I have to continue to dominate them on the line,” Robert Robles said about Saturday’s game. “Keep on pushing them back until they don’t want to be pushed back anymore and they fall down. That’s what we’ve got to do.”
Pershing County will be directed by senior quarterback Brandon Swindlehurst (6-2, 160) who out of the option offense is the team’s second leading rusher with 533 yards and averages 7.3 yards per carry.
Regular season scores
In the closest win of the season during the conference opener on Sept. 17, Pershing County nipped Dayton 22-21 on a bootleg two-point conversion by Swindlehurst in overtime.
That point five games later put the Mustangs in the playoffs.
Pershing County defeated Mineral County 53-12 and Incline 34-6. In their last game of the season, the Mustangs beat Yerington 76-14.
Pershing County led deep into the second quarter against Manogue, but was outmatched in the second half and lost 48-14.
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