By Allen Hamrick
The Panther football team took a beating this past week and were left hanging out to dry behind the wood shed. It was a much anticipated game Friday as two of the biggest bulls in the top ten AA schools butted heads. It was the undefeated Panthers against the undefeated Liberty Raleigh Raiders. This would be a tough one for sure, but the Panthers were coming off a three game winning streak and were ranked number five in the state while Liberty stood in 9th place. The Panthers ran on the field with flags in hand and grouped up on the sideline for a pep talk. Liberty Raleigh, in contrast, walked to the field like zombies carrying caskets as a funeral march type song accompanied them. Not sure if that was an intimidation attempt or not, however, if it was, it worked.
Opening kickoff went to the Panthers, and after three downs, one realized something was hanging in the air over the Panthers’ heads like a cloud of nails. The Panther offense looked as though they were a little off their usual game and couldn’t get the ball moving. The Panthers gave the ball back to the Raiders, and they took the punt, drove it into the end zone and didn’t look back. The Panther offense was like trying to watch a one legged frog hop in a straight line; you cheered them on but you just knew something wasn’t quite right. The Panthers had a tough time on offense as it seemed Raider defense had read all of the Panthers play books. At the end of the first quarter, the score stood at 0-14 in favor of the Raiders.
The Panther defense had a difficult time containing Liberty Raleigh’s run and their air show but managed a few highlights to keep the score respectable. The second quarter was all Panther defense as they allowed no more scoring, but the Panther offense was still in a rut. At the half, the score stood at 0-14, and the Panthers walked off the field as if they had already lost the game. This was not a score that was beyond reach, and all the Panthers had to do was regroup and bring back the intensity from last week. However, the second half was as bad as the first for the Panther offense – the running was shut down, the receiving was shut down and the line seemed to cave under the attack of Raiders. The Panther defense had their hands full but just couldn’t seem to get the same edge they have been playing with over the last three games.
It was a disappointing loss for sure as this was to be the dream season, but that dream seemed lost after the first quarter. Not sure what the problem was, but hopefully by next week they will have it figured out. Next up will be Webster County this Friday night. Webster is a pretty soft team as they are in a rebuild year. After that game, it gets tough again, and the bugs need worked out if the Panthers have any hopes of finishing with a 9-1 record and make the playoffs. Come out and support the Panthers, there is still a lot of football to play.