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Bre Kozusko

Senior Hunter Lawson prepares to call another play for his offense. The Panther offense, despite a loss, had a strong run game that should post big numbers come region play.

Gameday Takeaways, Week 4

Three notes as region play draws near

September 23, 2019

Last Friday, the Panthers traveled to Tyrone to take on Sandy Creek in an action-packed contest. While the defense held the Patriots to their lowest point total this season, the Panthers only managed a field goal and a touchdown, losing 28-10. Here are three notes from the contest.

  1. Have no fear, the run game is here

If there’s one thing the Panthers know how to do, it’s successfully running the football. 

Despite losing, the Panthers had 164 yards rushing, which was 57 yards more than the Patriots. With senior Kalen Sims having his first big game of the year (82 yards), and senior Ben Bodne continuing his hot streak (289 yards, 4 touchdowns on the season), the Panther run game has proven that it can win games for the team.

  1. Defense held high scoring offense to just 28 points. Sign?

This is precisely why the Panthers play non-region games — to take notes on where to improve before region play begins.”

— Sports Editor Ben Barkley

Sandy Creek came into the game against the Panthers averaging 43 points a game and looking unstoppable on offense. However, the Panther defense limited the Patriots to 28, fighting on defense for the entirety of the game. 

Senior Ardit Hoti, who replaced junior Wes Haney due to injury, ate up the middle, stopping Patriot running backs at the line of scrimmage. 

This is a big sign for region play. An unstoppable run defense that does not allow many rushing yards will force opponents to rely on the pass game. 

Speaking of the pass game, junior Jonathan Higle has three interceptions so far on the season, including one for a touchdown, proving that opponents can also have a hard night from the air against the Panther defense.

  1. Last time team went 2-2 in non-region, team didn’t make playoffs

The last time Starr’s Mill finished 2-2 in non-region play was in 2013. That team finished 4-6 and did not make the state playoffs in a rare off year for the Panthers. 

Since 2013, the team has a combined record of 10-9 in non-region play. Combined, those teams have finished with a 41-19 record and a playoff berth in every season.

This is precisely why the Panthers play non-region games — to take notes on where to improve before region play begins. The real season starts with region play, and over the last three seasons, the Panthers have a combined record of 16-2, proving that Starr’s Mill runs the region.  

What to watch for this week:

Besides the Panthers, the other teams in the county have come out of the gates slow. Fayette County, McIntosh, and Whitewater have a combined 3-12 record in non-region play. 

The Panthers’ first matchup in region play against Jonesboro (2-2) will be a big test. A win will give the Panthers a big boost of confidence they can carry with them into an Oct. 4 contest against an undefeated Griffin team that has put up big numbers to start the season. The Bears look consistent on both sides of the ball, outscoring opponents 138-21 through four games.

Starr’s Mill takes the field this Friday in Jonesboro against the Cardinals. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

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    Any BarkleySep 24, 2019 at 9:21 am

    Great article!