The varsity football team took the field 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5, and for the second week in a row, they posted a shutout, defeating Wharton High School 41-0.
“Back-to-back shutouts, you know, from a defense that started out very inexperienced,” head coach Robert Weiner said. “They are getting exponentially better each week.”
In addition to the defensive performance, highlighted by four sacks and 15 tackles for loss, the offense racked up 385 yards of total offense and a total of five touchdowns and one field goal. However, 31 of those points were scored in the first quarter, and they were mostly unable to move the ball in the second quarter.
“We’re still a work in progress,” Weiner said. “We were able to put some things together early on, but still not up to the exact rhythm we want to be in consistently.”
After a slow start to the first quarter, junior quarterback Tucker Gleason got things started off by completing a 43-yard pass to junior wide receiver Junah Norwood, putting them on the 8-yard line. With just under four minutes to go in the first quarter, Gleason passed it to senior quarterback Jade May in the end zone to put them up 7-0 after the extra point by senior kicker Evan Passath.
With the ball and under a minute left in the quarter, Gleason completed a 12-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Leonard Parker. After the two-point conversion was run in, the lead was extended to 15-0.
“[Parker] always puts everything in for everyone,” junior defensive lineman Aidan Giansante said. “He’s not there to make himself look good. He’s fighting to play for the team and do what he needs to do.”
Wharton had the ball deep in their own territory in the final seconds of the first quarter. The snap was fumbled, and a Wharton player recovered the ball but was tackled in the end zone, resulting in a safety. This tacked on two points to the score, making it 17-0 after 12 minutes of play.
Following a Wharton punt, the team was set up on their own 40-yard line. After moving the ball 17-yards, Gleason received the snap and ran it 43 yards into the end zone, and with a successful extra point, the score was 24-0 with nine minutes and 30 seconds to go in the first half.
With just one minute remaining in the half, senior running back Walter Wilbon III ran in a touchdown from 13 yards back, capping off a 7-play, 53-yard drive and sending the Panthers into the field house up 31-0 at halftime.
“I feel like during the game, we had a really good energy,” Giansante said. “We never thought, ‘Oh, we’re killing them.’ That was the big thing. It may have been a high score to nothing, but at most points of the game it felt like were still fighting to win, even though we already were.”
Mid-way through the third quarter, Passath hit a 35-yard field goal, making the score 34-0. The final touchdown was a 2-yard pass thrown by May to Parker with under three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Both teams were held scoreless in the fourth quarter, and the Panthers picked up their fifth win, putting them at 5-1 on the season.
“If we can put it all together with all three phases of the game, offense, defense and special teams, we have a chance to be pretty good,” Weiner said.