Back to the beginning

Posted 10/28/10

“It's harder to beat a team the second time,” Panther head coach Jim Stringer has preached throughout the week. “They're a different team than the group we faced back in Week 1 and, quite frankly, we are too.”

The …

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Back to the beginning


{gallery}10_28_10/phsfootball{/gallery}Powell senior Kyle Sullivan runs with the football during the Panthers' first game against Riverton this season. The two teams meet again this Friday in a 3A quarterfinal playoff contest. Tribune photo by John Wetzel Just like regular season, Panthers' playoff schedule starts with RIvertonIn many ways, it will feel like the start of football season all over again when No. 4 Riverton (5-3) returns to Powell this Friday night for a 3A quarterfinal contest against the fifth-ranked and also 5-3 Panthers. After beginning the regular season against each other, the two schools will now battle for the right to play at least one more week.

“It's harder to beat a team the second time,” Panther head coach Jim Stringer has preached throughout the week. “They're a different team than the group we faced back in Week 1 and, quite frankly, we are too.”

The Wolverines have showcased some of those differences over the past two weeks, trotting out some new offensive wrinkles in weeks 7 and 8 that have caught the attention of the Panthers' coaching staff.

“It's just something extra that we'll have to prepare for,” said Stringer. “Plus, the stuff they did against us when they played here eight weeks ago is just a lot sharper than it was then. They're executing a lot better.”

Those words should raise some caution in the minds of Panther fans, who saw Powell's need to produce a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions to capture a 13-10 victory in the two schools' first meeting. The Panthers also struggled in that first game to get its offense onto the field in the second half as time of possession and offensive plays slanted heavily in the Wolverines' favor.

“We had some turnovers in that first game that we need to avoid,” Stringer said of ways the Panthers can avoid a repeat of that scenario on Friday.

“If we can control the ball when we're on offense and not go three-and-out like we did that game, that'll help our defense not be on the field so much.”

To that effect, Stringer has promised he'll have a new wrinkle or two of his own to trot onto the field with on Friday night.

“We've got some adjustments that will hopefully surprise them and allow us to keep our offense on the field,” said Stringer. “Just like the changes we made in preparation for Lander helped our production, we're hoping that will be the case again this week.”

Whatever happens on Friday night, the Panthers will have to do it without the services of senior Tyler England. One of the state's leading kick-return specialists, England suffered an ankle injury against Lander and is listed as out for Friday's playoff game.

“It isn't broken and he didn't tear anything bad enough that it will require surgery, but he's definitely out,” said Stringer. “It hurts us, because he has played well. It's a key loss, but we're thankful he won't need surgery and will be able to do basketball and track and baseball and all those things still coming up for him.”

On the positive side, the Panthers return starting lineman Zach Herman. Stringer noted the sophomore's return will provide a boost to the Panthers' offensive line this week.

Stadium gates open at 6 p.m. for the 7 p.m. kickoff. Admission will be $5 for adults and $3 for children. The winner of the contest will advance to face the winner of the Douglas-Star Valley playoff game in the semifinals. Cody hosts Wheatland and Lander travels to Buffalo in the night's other 3A quarterfinal contests.

Panther state leaders

Through the eight-week regular season, the Powell football team has players sitting among the 3A state leaders in a variety of categories. Included on that list this week are:

Josh Cragoe, No. 9 in rushing, 49.8 yards per game

Keithen Schwahn, No. 3 in passing, 126.6 ypg

Cragoe, No. 8 in receiving, 41.0 ypg

Schwahn, No. 3 in all-purpose offense, 170.0 ypg

Cragoe, No. 6 in punt returns, 10.2 yards per return

Tyler England, No. 2 in kick returns, 23.8 ypr

Vince Sleep, No. 3 in individual defense, 18.6 defensive ppg

Cragoe, No. 9 in individual defense, 15.1 dppg