The Powell Panthers’ offense scored early and often and the defense was just as dominating as Powell High School’s football team remained undefeated with a 67-0 conquering of Worland on Homecoming night.
Head coach Jim Stringer applauded every aspect of his team’s dominating performance.
Powell’s 67-point throttling of the Warriors was the Panthers’ largest margin of victory Stringer can remember.
“It hasn’t happened in my time as coach,” he said.
Eight Panthers figured into the night’s scoring, of which there was plenty. Powell scored four touchdowns in the first quarter, three in the second, two in the third and one in the fourth.
Running back Ryan Ferro opened the scoring with a touchdown run on Powell’s first drive.
Quarterback Hayden Cragoe ran a 55-yard touchdown on Powell’s next possession. Cragoe later threw touchdown passes to Kalei Smith and Ferro in the second quarter.
Running back Cory Heny rushed for three touchdowns (two in the first quarter and one in the third) and 91 yards on 13 carries.
Garrett Lynch found his way into the end zone for the Panthers’ final first-half score and his fourth rushing score of the season.
When the offense wasn’t busy lighting up the scoreboard, the Powell defense was making sure Worland stayed put.
The Panthers absolutely smothered the Warriors, who netted negative 31 yards of total offense and zero first downs. Worland rushed for negative 34 yards while its passing game mustered only three on the positive side.
“Defensively we pitched a shutout, and pitched it in grand fashion,” Stringer said. “I can’t remember the last time, and maybe never in my coaching career, (I saw) a defensive effort with a negative yardage in rushing and no first downs in the game.”
Zach Thompson disrupted the Worland backfield with four tackles for a loss while Dillon Ohman registered three tackles for a loss.
Stringer said the Powell defensive line was accountable for approximately 45 percent of the tackles on running plays. The Worland passing game faired no better.
Warriors quarterback Clay Armstrong threw 11 passes, only two of which were caught, and only one by a member of his team.
An Armstrong pass that was tipped by his own receiver found its way into the arms of Powell safety Matthew Widdicombe late in the second quarter. The pick, Widdicombe’s first of the regular season, ended Worland’s final first-half drive and sealed Powell’s 47-0 halftime lead.
Once the clock started in the third quarter, it stopped only for timeouts, penalties and touchdowns. Powell’s 47-point lead invoked the mercy rule, which keeps the clock running unless the lead is cut to less than 45 points.
Powell wasn’t interested in a diminishing lead and scored twice in the third quarter.
Heny ran it in from 16 yards out on the Panthers’ first possession for his third and final score of the game and ninth rushing touchdown on the season.
After a Worland punt gave Powell the ball back at its own 36, Herd took a handoff on first down, turned the corner up the right sideline and used a key downfield block by Widdicombe to complete the 64-yard touchdown run.
“Widdicombe was definitely an unsung hero in this game,” Stringer said.
But he wasn’t the only one. Stringer said the downfield blocking by Powell’s slot receivers was “remarkable.”
“They made just some hellacious blocks downfield to spring some big yardage,” Stringer said. “Ryan Ferro and Brendon Phister, those are two kids from the slot position that just blocked their backsides off.”
The lopsided score gave Stringer the opportunity to rest some of his starters and showcase a few of his players’ talents at other positions.
Junior Carter Baxter, who is known as an energetic and fearsome defender at middle linebacker, took over Cragoe’s signal-calling duties in the fourth quarter and threw a touchdown pass to special teamer Heston Swenson, who leapt above a Worland defensive back to haul in the ball. It was Baxter’s first touchdown pass of the season and Swenson’s first catch and score.
“Carter threw a beautiful pass on that,” Stringer said. “On a lot of teams he would be a starter (at quarterback).”
The Panthers will face a tougher test Friday when the Cody Broncs (4-2, 2-1) come to town. Cody boasts the fourth-best offense (338.2 yards per game) and second-best rushing attack (260.6 ypg) in Class 3A.
“I guarantee it’s going to be a good test for us,” Stringer said.
But Powell has already showed it can stop the league’s best running game when it held Jackson (307.6 ypg) to 150 yards on the ground in a 40-0 shutout Sept. 27.
“We’ll definitely make our game plan this week to take away their run game,” Stringer said. “Try to find a way to make them a little more one-dimensional.”
Cody is coming off a 31-12 loss to Star Valley and is now tied with the Braves for second place in the 3A West conference.
Stringer said Cody’s loss might not be indicative of how the Broncs will play Powell.
“Some teams are better suited for others,” Stringer said, who thinks Star Valley might have just been a particularly bad matchup for Cody.
Powell’s final regular season home game will start 7 p.m. Friday at Panther Stadium.