Panthers roll to victory

Posted 9/29/09

Powell sacked the signal caller four times on the night, hit him on several other opportunities and surrendered just one play of more than 10 yards the entire evening to Jackson. The Broncs offense managed just three first downs in the contest, one …

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Panthers roll to victory


{gallery}09_29_09/football{/gallery} Powell's defense swarms over Jackson quarterback Kyle Vinson during a first-half pass attempt on Friday night. The second-ranked Panthers confined the Broncs to their half of the field almost exclusively, allowing just three first downs as the team recorded its first shutout of the year. Tribune photo by John Wetzel Defense dominates in 36-0 blanking of JacksonThe Powell Panthers, elevated last week to the No. 2 ranking in 3A according to the Wyopreps coaches and media poll, turned in a complete team effort on Friday night, opening conference play with a 36-0 shutout of visiting Jackson. In reality, the game probably wasn't even that close. Powell's defense kept the Broncs' option attack under wraps throughout the evening, holding the visiting team to negative yardage in the second half. Jackson quarterback Kyle Vinson spent much of the night either bottled up or scrambling for his life.

Powell sacked the signal caller four times on the night, hit him on several other opportunities and surrendered just one play of more than 10 yards the entire evening to Jackson. The Broncs offense managed just three first downs in the contest, one of which came via penalty.

“We knew they did a lot of option stuff,” said Panther senior linebacker Trent Gillett, who led Powell's defensive charge with three solo and eight assisted tackles for a 17-point defensive night. “We felt if we could shut down the quarterback and not let him get going that they didn't have much.”

The pregame scouting report proved to be prophetic as Jackson took just two offensive snaps on the Panthers' side of midfield all night. Powell's offense, on the other hand, had no such trouble navigating the field.

One week after having its way along the line of scrimmage against Buffalo, the Panthers churned out another 300 yards along the ground and more than 400 total yards of offense. Powell scored all the points it would need in the first period as Auston Carter broke free for a 40-yard touchdown run. The big run capped a 95-yard scoring drive for the Panthers.

The bulk of the scoreboard damage came in the second period as the Panthers scored touchdowns on all three of their possessions in the quarter. Billy Harshman ended an 11-play drive spanning the first and second quarters with a one-yard dive across the goal line.

The Panthers' aerial attack took over from there. Sophomore quarterback Keithen Schwahn hooked up with classmate Zach Thiel for a 42-yard scoring strike to up the Panthers' lead to 20-0 shortly after the midway point of the period. Three minutes later, Schwahn linked up with senior Devin Jordan for a 25-yard touchdown pass.

At intermission, the Panthers owned a 286-25 advantage in yards gained.

“It felt really good to go in at halftime and have a little leeway on the scoreboard,” Powell head coach Jim Stringer said of the Panthers' 28-0 lead. “We got a chance in the second half to try some things we haven't been able to yet this season in an actual game.”

Early on, the results were the same. Powell took the second-half kickoff and needed just six plays to march downfield, scoring on a six-yard run by Harshman.

Harshman finished the night narrowly missing a 100-yard performance. The senior finished with 97 yards on 16 carries.

The Panthers' defense, meanwhile, made sure Jackson never got moving. Despite its tight-fisted first-half performance, Powell's defense actually found a way to improve in the second half, holding the visitors to just two yards of offense before an errant punt snap through the end zone late in the fourth period pushed that figure into negative numbers.

“The guys on defense tonight did their jobs well. We filled our gaps and just flew to the football,” said Gillett. “We just need to keep reading our keys and doing our jobs out there.”

“Our 3-5 defense is really based on kids flying to the ball and doing specific jobs on each play,” said Stringer. “We talked all week about bottling up their quarterback and with the exception of one or two plays, they did that well.”

In addition to Gillett's performance, Joe Lujan had an active evening, logging three of the Panthers' four quarterback sacks and finishing with 15 defensive points.

The win improves Powell to 4-0 this season. More important, it gave the team a 1-0 record in 3A West play. Under the Wyoming High School Activitites Association's new football alignment this season, conference records are used to determine seeding in the postseason.

“It feels good to get that first conference win,” said Stringer. “We can't let up though. we need to take every game one game at a time. We're going to have a bulls-eye on our back now.”