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Annika Pepper

Senior offensive lineman Vee Holcomb awaits a snap during the Panthers’ final region home game against the Whitewater Wildcats this past Friday. On top of the Panther defense pulling off their third consecutive shutout, the Panther offense had one of their best games yet to pull out a convincing 42-0 win against a county rival. “We knew we needed to win this game to be sitting good in the region,” Holcomb said. “So we all knew as seniors [that] tonight was our last regular season home game, so it meant something to us.”

Gameday Takeaways, Week 8

Three notes from offensive breakout game

November 12, 2020

This past week, Panther football hosted the Whitewater Wildcats in a county rivalry with control of the region on the line. Not only did the defense put together yet another shutout, but the offense stepped up big time to put together a 42-0 victory. Here are three takeaways from that breakout performance.

  1. It’s about time!

Five fumbles with two lost is not a good metric, and it surely is not going to do them any favors come playoff time.”

— Sports Editor Daniel Stackhouse

At points early in the game I was scared about the offense. Scared about the idea that they could be regressing. Five fumbles with two lost is not a good metric, and it surely is not going to do them any favors come playoff time. That being said, they finally gave Panther Nation a big game to be excited about.

They played the best football this season against the Wildcats. Seeing them run for 464 yards and score 42 points was a treat to witness. Solid execution led to some big scores, including sophomore running back Greigh Joseph’s 98-yard touchdown run.

So far this season, the offense has struggled to put together some big games. The execution has been incomplete. This past week, however, we saw several big runs left and right across the field.

If the offense can continue to improve, they will be a strong force. That being said, they do need to be better with ball control. Again, fumbling the ball five times and losing two is a bad stat. In the later rounds of the playoffs, if Starr’s Mill makes it to that point, opponents will ruthlessly capitalize on those kinds of mistakes.

That being said, this is a great stepping stone. Sophomore quarterback Will Yarbrough proved that he can run and throw more consistently with 149 total yards, including a passing and a rushing touchdown. Sophomore Greigh Joseph played well again with five carries for 106 yards and a touchdown, and senior Devin Barnett had his first touchdown since week three. Overall, great performance all around.

  1. The future’s looking bright

The defense pulled off another shutout — not exactly a shock at this point. What was a shock is that the starters did not play the entire game. Getting the shutout through the latter half was up to a group of backups and junior varsity players.

On the defensive side of the ball, the majority of starters on the defense are seniors, including the linebacking core, all but one defensive back, and a good chunk of defensive linemen. The big question after this season will undoubtedly be if the players remaining will carry on and find success.

Developing players from the inside has always been a strength of Panther football.”

— Sports Editor Daniel Stackhouse

While the complete answer to that question is still unknown, the backup defense looked strong against Whitewater’s starting offense. Two of the three drives played by the backup defense ended in negative yardage for the Wildcats. Oh, and they also neither scored nor broke past midfield.

To limit a team that significantly without a single starter on the field says a lot about the potential of this defense. There has been success at the middle school the past few years evidenced by this year’s and last year’s teams winning the county championship. Those groups are just starting to come up, and they could make some major noise once they develop.

Developing players from the inside has always been a strength of Panther football. Their feeder program has brought kids up and molded them into football players. Many players on the Panthers come from the youth teams that they played on when they were kids, and look at them now. While it was just a glimpse, those newer kids look like a strong group.

  1. Attitude is everything

Whether it be good or bad, attitude is contagious. It is noticeable with the culture of hard work that the Panthers pride themselves on. Even if the precedent has been set by the coaches and players before, it is up to the players on the roster to follow through.

“When we messed up, we didn’t just get down on each other,” senior offensive lineman Vee Holcomb said. “We just built each other up. When somebody messes up, we don’t just get down like I said. And that just carried through the game, and once things started clicking we just started rolling, and that’s 42-0.”

It is comforting knowing that the team is willing to pick each other up and keeping moving forward.”

— Sports Editor Daniel Stackhouse

When I spoke to Holcomb, my eyes were opened about how the offense in particular carried themselves. To keep a positive attitude and keep moving forward as a unit, that is a mentality worth noting.

The offense started with several mistakes. However, their willingness to keep moving forward pushed them to greater heights. With the potential the offense has shown, this is amazing! It is comforting knowing that the team is willing to pick each other up and keeping moving forward.

Even if Starr’s Mill struggles, their good attitude carries them throughout the game. They all believe in grinding and beating teams with a superior work ethic. Seeing it come together in the kind of game we saw against Whitewater inspires confidence for later down the line.

What to watch for next week

Now more than even, Starr’s Mill is in the driver’s seat and only need to win one of their final two games to take the region 2-AAAAA trophy. Fortunately for them, they will be playing two of the worst teams in the region: McIntosh and Northside Columbus.

There is no reason why they should not win at least one of those games, especially against McIntosh. Currently the Chiefs are 0-8, 0-4 within region play, and are coming off of a 41-14 beatdown at the hands of Harris County.

Should Starr’s Mill defeat McIntosh, the region title is theirs. Find out if their fifth consecutive region championship is meant to be this Friday at 7:30 p.m. at McIntosh High School.

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