Panthers defeat Patriots in JV matchup


Shelby Foster

Sophomore quarterback Hunter Lawson breaks a tackle and throws for a 17-yard gain. Despite only scoring two touchdowns, the Panther offense put on quite a show against the visiting Patriots.

Ryan Allen, Staff Writer

The Panthers utilized a strong run game as well as a secure secondary to lead them to a 14-7 win over the Sandy Creek Patriots last Thursday. 

“Our kids played hard the entire time, and that’s what we expect of them,” head coach Chad Walker said. “These young guys are playing with the varsity guys and that’s why we have success with JV. Our kids are getting coached by varsity coaches and that also gives them confidence.”

Shelby Foster
The JV Panther team lines up against the Patriots. Starr’s Mill beat the Sandy Creek Patriots 14-7.

In the first quarter, the JV team started off slow, but quickly came back, making many big plays.Two minutes into the first quarter, freshman Nathan Kearns intercepted the Patriot quarterback to prevent a touchdown. After an unsuccessful drive for the Mill, freshman defensive back Wes Haney stripped the ball from a Sandy Creek player and sophomore defensive lineman Carter Curtis recovered it to give the Panthers possession. After a grueling first quarter, the score was 0-0.

“That interception made me feel great, because it was a close fourth down so I wanted to get the ball back on our side,” Kearns said. “We need to keep pushing forward and be ready for what comes next.”

Starr’s Mill pulled everything together in the second quarter. The Panther defensive scheme flourished, and they started making plays. Early in the quarter, the home team forced a turnover on downs. Sophomore quarterback Hunter Lawson found a hole in the defense and scrambled down to the 1-yard line. Sophomore running back Ardit Hoti finished out the series of plays by adding six points to the scoreboard. They shut down Sandy Creek for the rest of the quarter, ending the half with a 7-0 lead.

Starting out the third quarter refreshed and with a gameplan to defeat the Patriots, the Panther defense contained Sandy Creek with multiple sacks. Sophomore Karsen Kalen stood out for Starr’s Mill, making plays on both sides of the ball. Kalen ran for a first down to start the drive and sophomore running back Ben Bodne followed with two more first down runs. The final play of the possession saw Kearns catch the football on a 30-yard touchdown pass. The score at the end of the third quarter was 14-0.

“It was very accomplishing to have thirty plays going down the field, feeling your guts about to explode, and working as a team to achieve the one thing we all want, the endzone,” Kalen said. “[The] key to success is four words: practice how you play.”

The fourth quarter came quick and the JV team had a solid 14 point lead. Junior linebacker Michael Heatherly knocked the ball out of the opponent’s arms and freshman Jackson Baxley recovered it to gain possession once again. Later on, Haney intercepted the ball, the fifth Patriot turnover of the game, and returned it 20 yards. For the rest of the quarter both teams fought for field position to get one last touchdown. With six seconds left in the game, the Patriots finally found the end zone, but it was too little, too late.

“We need to eliminate turnovers, number one, and we gave up a touchdown there at the end,” Walker said. “But we gotta keep turnovers to a minimum and learn from our mistakes to keep playing hard.”

The Starr’s Mill JV football team successfully defended their unblemished record and looks to carry this momentum into the next game. The next JV football game is against Newnan on Oct. 5. The game will be in Panther Stadium at 5:30 p.m.