By Allen Hamrick
The official 2023 fall Panther football season is underway. It was a hot and muggy Friday evening for the season opening game against Midland Trail. The field was packed with fans on both sides to see the Panthers and the Patriots butt heads. This season is much anticipated for the Panthers; they have had to overcome some tough spots in the line up from last year, and it will be interesting to see what they come up with. Some new comers from last year’s CCMS team joined the group and will definitely make a difference as the season rolls on.
The national anthem was sung and it was time to get down to the business of football. With the bleachers loaded with screaming fans, the Panthers were fired up to get their first win of the season. Unfortunately, it did not happen this night. The Pirates came into the game not making the mistake of underestimating the Panthers air to ground game and their back field did a good job of covering the receivers like a blanket. The catches the Panthers did get in the first half were short but netted some good yards and a couple of TD’s. The Patriots countered with their own air attack and
started racking up points on the board early taking a 0-16 lead in the first half. Not to be out done, some great running, receiving and some heavy traffic ropes thrown by Noah Collins got the Panthers back into position to score. Once they got close it was a Collins, Ayden Brown tag team that got them close and a Collins, Zane Minger diving finish to close the deal with TD.
With a little momentum, it seemed that the Panthers were back on track to get the game going their way. The Panther defense stepped into the game and started closing down any offense the Patriots put together. Flags were starting to fly like confetti on both sides of the ball especially on the Panther offense as they, too, struggled to add real estate.
The Panther defense held strong in the first half on the run but was having trouble dancing in step with the Patriot receivers, yet the Panther defense
still held their ground. The Panther offense got to work late in the first half and started getting those yards they needed. Collins went to work throwing into traffic on short bursts and the Panthers went down the field. It looked as though the Patriots would hold the line but a sneak attack by the Collins and Brown air show took the Panthers to the dinner table scoring another TD for the Panthers. They went for the extra point, and BJ Williams did a masterful job of catching the ball keeping it out of the dirt. Williams was blanketed all evening by the defense but made some great catches in the game.
The half ended with the score locked at Panthers 14, Patriots 16.
The start of the third quarter saw the Patriots come out and open a hole in the Panther defense which allowed their sprinter a chance at open field. That mistake added another six points to the Patriots’ end game. Not being able to capitalize on the extra points, the score stood at 14-22
Patriots. After that, it was all defense on both sides of the ball; neither team was able to rack up another point and the game ended with a defensive stand-off. The Panthers lose a heart breaker as their season opens but it was not without some offense and defense flair and counting of coup. The Panthers will be on the road this week in Roane County. They will definitely have to work out a few bugs in practice this week before their meeting with the Raiders. The Raiders are coming off a great season from last year, but so are the Panthers. It should be a good game. Get out this week and support the Panthers against the Raiders; it promises to be a great game.