A look from behind Pershing County High School and onto Joe Yanni Field in a drone shoot by Jim List and his son Mason.
A look from behind Pershing County High School and onto Joe Yanni Field in a drone shoot by Jim List and his son Mason.
Over 300 people lined up for hot dogs, burgers or tri-tip. 

On Aug. 17, 2018, Pershing County School District opened its new athletic complex. At dusk, officials flipped the switch for the first time and lit up the field.

“The district and community can be proud,” said Mike Mancebo, Pershing County school board member and Chief of the Lovelock Police Department. “This was accomplished with a lot of forethought and hard work from Tom Donaldson, Russell Fecht and Shaw Engineering.”

Jim List and his son, Mason, then 15, took aerial photos with a DJI drone.

The black letters PCHS stood out against a green and scarlet background. Centerfield featured the school mascot, the Mustang, a symbol of liberty, courage, romance, limitless possibilities and the vanishing West.

Nobody had heard of the coronavirus.

A few months later, Steve Evenson bellowed announcements at the Homecoming Game against the Silver Stage Nighthawks. “Are you ready for some Homecoming football?” he shouted. Everybody was.

Marissa Garcia and Kasey Brown crowned Sayuri Acosta and Axel Gonzalez, the 2018 Homecoming King and Queen. Fireworks thundered and burst in a cascade of colors.

Many in the crowd remembered a windy Saturday in Fernley when Pershing won the 2016 2A state football trophy back from the Yerington Lions (14-7). The Lions had held on to it with an iron grip for three years. Before that, in 2010, 2011 and 2012, the gold belonged to Pershing.

The 2016 state championship game came down to one penalty. On a fourth down on Yerington’s 37-yard line, Ethan Rhodes threw high to the left side of the field with eight minutes to go.

Both players, receiver and defender, jumped for the ball and collided in mid-air. The pass interference call kept the drive alive and gave the Mustangs the ball on the 18.

Five plays later, Tad Milich ran in from the 1-yard line for the winning score with 6:18 left. 

In 2017, Pershing County rallied in the second half to beat Battle Mountain (35-24) at Lowry High School in Winnemucca. The Longhorns led 24-14 at the half, but the Mustangs shut them out the rest of the way and got the lead late in the fourth quarter.

Pershing County coach Dave McLean stepped down as coach after the game. He won six state championships and has a career record of 136-29. Lance Condie retired as defensive coordinator.

In 2018, in Las Vegas, Pershing beat Needles 30-18 to walk away with the state championship again, their second three-peat in nine years. Overall, they’ve won ten state titles.

It was Ricky Reitz’s third start as quarterback. He stepped into the role after a late-season roster shakeup. 

That’s also the year coach Mike Brooks said farewell to 14 seniors.

After three winning seasons, the 2A state trophy slipped from Pershing’s grasp in Panaca last fall. They lost to Lincoln County 36-0 in the state semifinals. 

 Yerington rebounded to win the title they coveted, beating Lincoln County 33-22 for their first state crown since 2015.

Meanwhile, in Wuhan, China, health authorities treated dozens of cases of pneumonia of unknown origin. 

Days later, they identified a new virus. By Jan. 30, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency.

Football resumes in the spring of 2021. Practice begins Saturday. Feb. 13.

The season will run March 5 through April 10, six competitive weeks. Pershing County will have to wait until at least 2022 to wrest the trophy back from Yerington. At this time, the NIAA does not anticipate state tournaments.

For now, the Mustangs are doing all they can to stay in sports shape. According to coach Brooks, most of them are in weight training classes. He hopes to start a football training program this month.

“It’s been specialized for COVID circumstances,” he says. Come what may, Joe Yanni Field will soon welcome the 2021 Pershing County Mustangs.