Panthers win, move to 3-0
Alba-Golden Athletic Director Drew Webster explained what made this year’s group of Panthers so special. “They have a true appreciation for the concept of team…they are, in a word, …
Panthers win, move to 3-0
Alba-Golden Athletic Director Drew Webster explained what made this year’s group of Panthers so special. “They have a true appreciation for the concept of team…they are, in a word, unselfish.”
That characteristic is fueling the Panthers in the opening stages of the 2022 campaign. If one looks for data, Alba-Golden’s opening possession drives in their first three games are pretty enlightening: Aug. 26 – 61 yards in five plays for a touchdown; Sept. 2 – 83 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown; Sept. 9 – 91 yards in 13 plays for a touchdown.
However, the more telling signs of teamwork come from watching them play. Seldom does one Panther make a tackle; more often there seems to be two or three Panthers around the ball. Offensively, people look to see the number of the ballcarrier, because everyone who touches the ball out of the backfield runs with a sense of aggression far greater than their size. Along the line, the blockers show solid technique and excellent footwork, resulting in ample seams for the running backs.
Somewhat new to this year’s team, the passing game is beginning to show consistent production. Quarterback Easton Campbell went 12-23 for 182 yards and three touchdowns Friday in the 52-14 win over the visiting Clarksville Tigers.
After stuffing the Tigers on the opening possession, Alba-Golden mixed passes to Glen Hartley, Luke Sutton and Payton Dickinson with the running of Donald McVay on their opening scoring drive. Dickinson ripped off a 40-yard carry through midfield. The Panthers took an early 7-0 lead.
A booming Clarksville punt put the Panthers deep in their own territory. Alba-Golden was stymied after a sack and took punt formation. A long throw on a faked punt came within a whisper of connecting for a big play. Eventually, Alba-Golden turned the ball over on downs.
Clarksville struck quickly, hitting a wide receiver in the corner of the end zone from 20 yards out. In a blink, the score was tied at 7.
Alba-Golden’s offense cranked out successive scores on the next two drives. On the first drive, Campbell connected with Jerry Skinner on a beautifully-executed flag route in the southwest end zone. In the second drive Campbell carried the ball around left end from 11-yards out, and despite receiving a crunching tackle at the goal line, made it across the goal.
Each of those drives was a nice mix of run and pass. Seven Panthers touched the ball in those two drives. That included Gavin Parker who hauled in a key fourth-down pass along the sideline for a 29-yard gain.
The Panther defense stepped up as well. On the next Tiger’s possession, Braylon Moffett, snatched a deflected pass out of the air. He made a nice return to set up Alba-Golden’s next score – a 44-yard TD pass from Campbell to Jerry Skinner.
With the score 27-7, the Panther defense continued to feast. Following a big sack by Jeff Kruse, Parker stepped in front of an out-route pass and took it 40 yards for a score.
As the half neared, Alba-Golden had built a 33-7 lead.
The game was halted for about 30 minutes when a Clarksville player suffered a clearly-broken right ankle. The play came as the teams raced to pick up a blocked extra point. The player had his foot in the turf near the football when several bodies converged on the ball.
Alba-Golden scored on three of their five second-half possessions. They logged two time-consuming drives and scored on a short field after forcing an interception.
The offense had another steady night. They produced 499 yards from scrimmage, balanced between the halves. They also kept the Tiger defense guessing. Not only does Alba-Golden use a variety of formations but they use several ball carriers so that the defense cannot key on one runner.
A very tough 2-yard carry by McVay made the score 45-7 late in the game. That was grit. On the next drive, Dickinson scored on a well-developed trap play from five yards out. That was finesse.
Defensively, the Panthers gave up 153 yards from scrimmage and created three turnovers. Defensive stand-outs included Brayden Randolph, Jeff Kruse, Jason Langsten, Tyler Perez and Seth Converse.
The Panthers will be looking to continue their run of team play Friday as they host the Big Sandy Wildcats. In the week following, the tough competition of District 9-2A awaits.