The Panther football team took their 4-1 record to Coal City on Friday evening to take on the Patriots of Independence High School. Independence is known for their tough defensive football and Friday was no different.
Clay looked a little differently this time out onto the field. Due to numerous injuries, the Panthers still felt comfortable in trying to get to 5-1. Caleb Wynn sustained a season ending hand injury and Bailey Boggs was limited while playing in a cast on his arm. Last season’s leading tackler and junior Joel Cruickshank’s was injured in preseason and also looks to be finished for the season. During the game, three year starting CB Kenny Welch also suffered what could be a season ending injury.
The Panthers will definitely have to overcome some adversity and injuries if they are going to continue to put some wins on the scoreboard. The Panthers and Patriots were in a defensive showdown for most of the first half. Independence took a 7-0 lead with just over four minutes remaining before halftime after the Panthers turned the ball over for the third time deep in our own territory. After the kickoff, which the Panthers nearly returned all the way, CCHS was able to move the ball to the Patriot six yard line. Clay had three chances to tie or take the lead right before halftime, but unfortunately turned the ball over again. Clay was down 7-0 at the half but still felt like we could win the second half and the game.
However, the turnovers continued to mount and Independence was able to capitalize off of them. The game just spiraled out of control after that. The Panthers were able to find success when we were able to hang onto the ball, but the chances to get back into the game never did materialize. Independence pulled out the 26-0 win and the Panthers varsity record dropped to 4-2. Clay will have a bye week next week before travelling to Lincoln County on October 13.
Players of the Game include Sophomore OL/DL Andrew Stutler and Senior WR/DE Ryan Burdette. Stutler was able to play RT and had some good o-line blocking throughout the game. He was also able to register 10 tackles in the game. When Stutler is healthy he is one of the better lineman around this area. He will continue to get better and better the more he plays and hits the weight room. Senior Ryan Burdette continues to turn heads across the state as he hauled in five catches for 63 yards and added on to his team lead in tackles with ten more from Friday.
The Panthers will have a bye week this upcoming week. The bye couldn’t come at a better time as injuries have definitely impacted this team. Hopefully an off day from practice and some fundamental work will be enough to propel the Panthers moving forward.