Photo Credit: Lauren Haugen
Ground was broken for Lake Havasu High School in 1968. Along with LHHS, Mohave High School of Bullhead City also had its ground broken the same year. Ironically, the same shovel was used in the ground breaking ceremonies at each school. Thus formed a tradition; a tradition that has bonded two rival high schools for life; a tradition that has made friends turn into enemies; and a tradition that has stood the test of time for half a century.
The 51st annual Golden Shovel Football Game will take place on September 6, in Bullhead City. The Golden Shovel location switches every year, with each high school hosting the game every other year. In 2018, Lake Havasu hosted the game in the re-designed, re-vamped Lee Barnes Stadium here in Lake Havasu. It was the Knights first game on the new field, and they didn’t disappoint; the Knights blew out the T-Birds, 35 to 21, to win their thirty-sixth golden shovel game, and the fourth in five years. Now, Mohave is hosting the game, and in their very own, new stadium. The brand new, 125,000 square foot Anderson Auto Group Fieldhouse will host this year’s edition of the Golden Shovel, as Mohave looks to win its first Golden Shovel since 2014, and their fifteenth overall since the beginning of the rivalry.
The Fighting Knights are heading into the game with numerous returning stars from the past year’s teams that have won the shovel. Led by a loaded senior class, the Fighting Knights look to storm Mohave’s homefield and bring the shovel back home to Lake Havasu. This year though, the team’s only focus is on winning one game at a time, and finishing the season with a winning record for the first time since the 2015-2016 season.
“Besides the Mohave game, we are always focused on winning. Its week-by-week for us, and that’s our main focus,” said Senior Captain Jace Taylor, who has played in every Golden Shovel game since his freshman year. Hoping to end his four year career with another victory, Taylor also said, “It’s motivation. I don’t know how long the winning streak is, but we are just motivated to keep winning and perform well every time.”
Along with Taylor and a strong squad of players, a veteran coaching staff, led by Head Coach Karl Thomspon, who has led the Fighting Knights to 18 Golden Shovel games since he took over the program in 1999. And with nine Golden Shovel victories, Thompson is considered to be one of the winningest coaches in Havasu Football History. Another win in the biggest game of the year surely would help build that list of achievements.
As for the team? The Knights Football team plays several major games this season, with home games against the Thunderbird Chiefs, the Gila Ridge Hawks, and the Desert Edge Scorpions. The final outcome for the boys is expected to be high, as all have hopes of qualifying for the state tournament. Which is something the Knights team hasn’t done in several years. Either way, the Fighting Knights are motivated to win this season, both for each other and themselves, one game at a time.