T-birds junior quarterback Elias Resendez (5) releases a pass down the field, as junior running back Marc Hightower (22) runs his pattern in the flat while Dust Devils senior outside linebacker/defensive end Brenan Gleadeau (10) rushes the Mohave signal-caller during River Valley’s victory at the  Anderson Auto Group Fieldhouse on Aug. 30.

BULLHEAD CITY — The Mohave High School T-birds got an unsavory taste of the Peoria High School Panthers during their 52-14 home loss last season.

The T-birds will give it another whirl at 7 tonight at Peoria High School.

“Last year, they had two dymanic running backs who graduated and this year they have two sophomores who are just as good — if not better,” said Mohave head coach Rudy Olvera when he was asked to compare this season’s Peoria squad to last year’s.

Not much has changed for this season’s Arizona Interscholastic Association No. 2-ranked 4A conference Panthers, out of the West Valley Region. After they finished 9-2 overall in 2018, they are off to a 2-0 start after beating the Buckeye High School Hawks 41-0 on Aug. 30 and the Youngker High School Roughriders 55-7 on Sept. 6.

The AIA 4A Grand Canyon Region T-birds’ record is 0-2 overall, 0-0 in region, as Mohave lost 31-21 to the River Valley High School Dust Devils on Aug. 30 and 38-13 to the Lake Havasu High School Knights on Sept. 6.

T-birds junior running back Marc Hightower gained 108 yards on 20 carries with one TD run against the Knights.

Hightower did not run well until the Havasu game progressed.

“As the game went on, he started to perk up,” Olvera said. “When he gets into the open field, he gets pretty athletic and he can make his moves.”

Hightower, who is a transfer from River Valley, also made some moves against his former teammates. He gained 104 yards on 22 carries with one TD run against the Dust Devils.

When the Panthers’-T-birds’ home-and-home series was comparable to a mid-major facing Alabama, Olvera said, “We take the cards we’re given. I’ll tell you this: I got excited a couple of years ago. We have to play teams like this to prepare for our region play.”

Mohave competes in the Grand Canyon Region, which is extremely competitive in its own right.

Olvera also is using the Peoria experience as an example for him to help mold his future T-birds’ programs.

“They’re a team that has history,” Olvera said. “This is the kind of program that’s been around since the beginning of time in Arizona.

“This is the kind of program we aspire to be like in the future.”

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