Blowout in the Jungle

Panthers cruise past Wildcats in all phases of game


Annika Pepper

Senior Ben Bodne crosses the goal line for a touchdown. Bodne had another monster game last week, rushing for 103 yards and three touchdowns. On the season, Bodne has 566 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.

Ben Barkley, Sports Editor

After defeating Griffin in a close game last week, the Panthers returned to Panther Stadium to take on the 1-5 Whitewater Wildcats. Starr’s Mill took the reins from the opening seconds and never looked back, winning the game 42-3.

“We played hard from the start,” head coach Chad Phillips said. “I’m proud of the way they answered the challenge tonight.”

The Panther offense dominated throughout the game, producing 430 total yards. On the ground, the backs produced 408 yards, as senior Kalen Sims ran for 177 yards and a touchdown, and senior Ben Bodne ran for 103 yards and three touchdowns. 

Defensively, the secondary unit forced four interceptions, highlighted by junior Cole Bishop, who had three.

Whitewater only managed to produce 128 yards. The nightmare of which came in the passing game, as sophomore Austin Williams and senior Maddox Mueller each threw two interceptions. 

“Our offensive game plan was to just run straight through them,” Lawson said. “I love beating [Whitewater] this bad.”

Offense was present for the Panthers right from the start, as Starr’s Mill ran right through the Wildcat defense on the opening drive. This was capped off with Bodne’s first touchdown of the night off a seven-yard run, making the score 7-0 early. 

Annika Pepper
Sophomore Barrett Schmidlkofer looks to tackle an opposing Wildcat. The Panther defense held a rebuilding Wildcat offense to just three points, while the secondary unit forced four interceptions.

The defense was also on fire, as Bishop intercepted his first pass of the night on the next drive to give possession back to the Panthers. Starr’s Mill continued to push the ball down the field as the quarter ended, keeping the score at 7-0.

“I’m just doing my job,” Bishop said. “Everyone else is doing their jobs, and we’re playing very well as a team.”

Running continued to be a priority for the Panthers to begin the second quarter, as Bodne ran for his second touchdown of the game, making the score 14-0. 

On the next possession, the Panthers found the endzone again as Lawson ran it in for himself, increasing the lead to 21-0. Defensively, the team was still on fire as junior Wes Haney forced another interception to give Starr’s Mill the ball back.

A minute later, Sims found the endzone to put the Panthers on the board again and increase the lead to 28-0. Just when it couldn’t get any worse for the Wildcat offense, Bishop forced another interception. The offense marched down the field and Bodne punched it in with twelve seconds left to make the score 35-0 at halftime.

“Bodne has been running the ball so good right now,” Lawson said. “It makes my job so much easier when I can hand it off to a kid who can score almost three times a game.” 

This performance gives Bodne 568 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the season.  

Starr’s Mill continued to play their game throughout the third quarter. Despite a fumble recovery by the Wildcats, the Panthers were not fazed and forced a quick three and out shortly after. The Mill continued their consistency for the whole quarter, keeping the score at 35-0.

The defense came up big to begin the final quarter of play, as Bishop intercepted his third and final ball of the day. After that, sophomore Brandon Mathis scored a touchdown to increase the Panther lead to 42-0.

“Our defensive game plan was to just play our stuff,” Phillips said. “The staff did a good job game planning against them.”

Starr’s Mill brought out their second stringers to close the game out. Whitewater did push down the field, almost scoring a touchdown. However, they settled for a field goal courtesy of senior Evan Rogers to avoid the shutout, giving the Panthers a 42-3 victory.

“We felt we could run our offense,” Phillips said. “This time of the year is when we should really start to click, and we’ve been doing just that.”

This loss puts the Wildcats at 1-6, with a 1-2 region record. They won’t play again until Oct. 25 against Riverdale.

Starr’s Mill now has a 4-3 record, with a 2-1 region record. Up next for the team is the big Battle of the Bubble against McIntosh. The Chiefs are coming off a close 21-20 victory over Fayette County and are looking for some boost of momentum to their season.

The Panthers travel over to McIntosh for the Battle of the Bubble next week. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.