Panthers overpower Union Grove

Posted 9/16/21

There are moments in football when specific groups within the team coalesce. They can be seen improving their positional play, such as the defensive line or the secondary or the backs or the …

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Panthers overpower Union Grove


There are moments in football when specific groups within the team coalesce. They can be seen improving their positional play, such as the defensive line or the secondary or the backs or the offensive line. 

Last Friday against Union Grove, most of the Alba-Golden positional groups showed significant improvement. The result was a decisive 53-19 tanning of the Union Grove Lions. 

While Union Grove may not rival Cooper or Rivercrest, the level of competition does not overly influence this phenomena of a team coalescing. Two solid indicators of a team maturing together are the balance between the right and left side of the play – in other words how effective a defense or offense is on each side – and how many different players get called out for making significant contributions. 

In both regards, the Panthers made huge strides forward this past week.

Alba-Golden rolled up nearly 500 yards from scrimmage. The running attack featured solid play on both sides of the line. No fewer than eight Panthers toted the ball. 

Easton Campbell again got the starting quarterback job and tossed two scoring strikes.

Blake Weissert was also worked back into the job, scored two running touchdowns, and looks to be completely back in form. 

Defensively, the Panthers exerted their will at each layer of defense: line, linebackers and secondary. The Panther linebacking corps is likely the heart and soul of the team. They are active, tireless and physical. They dominated play against Union Grove. 

Most impressive for Alba-Golden fans are the impact of the defensive front and the smart and aggressive play of the secondary. In addition to limiting Union Grove to 135 yards of total offense, both units smartly pressurized the field and seldom allowed the Lions room to breathe.

The Panthers drove 70 yards on their opening possession to score. The touchdown came when Campbell rolled-out right and hit Shawn Gaskill in the flat, who scored from 12 yards out. 

After the teams exchanged punts, Union Grove took over at the Panther 30-yard line. They connected on a beautifully-thrown flag route to put the ball at the three. They punched the ball in two plays later and the score was tied at the end of the first quarter, 6-6.

The Panthers then took complete control with three touchdowns before halftime.

Nick Hallman scored on a 47-yard dash with an aggressive cutback through the Lion defense. 

Following an excellently-timed interception on a deep ball by Braylon Moffett, Alba-Golden scored on a ten-yard quarterback keeper by Weissert. Key to that drive was a stirring run by Gaskill, who simply powered through the Lions and refused to be tackled.

Gaskill scored on the next possession when he carried defenders on his back the last 12-yards into the end zone. He finished the night with 143 yards on 15 carries and three scores.    

At the half, the home side was up, 25-6.

Union Grove came out with some urgency. They went to a spread formation with five receivers. The Lions scored on their opening second-half possession when a deep ball was batted up into the air by two Panthers and came down into the receiver’s hands. 

The Panthers just kept the pressure on. They scored on their next four possessions, breaking the will of their opponents in the process. 

The lead was 40 points, when late in the fourth quarter, Union Grove hit a wide receiver hitch route. The receiver shook a tackler and scored on a 53-yard play. It was one of only a handful of missed tackles on the night. 

Tackling was one of the Panthers’ strengths throughout the game. In addition to crushing blows like those rendered by Ethan Salinas, Erin Hubbard, Eathan Thorn and the Gaskill brothers, there were also great open field tackles.

Of note, Gavin Parker used textbook technique to break down in the open field and cut down a Lion receiver running free. Jason Langston made an outstanding tackle on the kickoff coverage team.    

Additional notable performances were given by Panthers Jerry Skinner, Micah Smith, Jack Patton and Glen Hartley.

If the energy, discipline and fundamental play of the Panthers are what can be expected in district play, the sky is the limit. The Union Grove game may have been a signature win, and right on time.

Alba-Golden travels to Cumby for the last pre-district game of the year. They open up district play Sept. 24 at home against Wolfe City.