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Varsity football prepares to face Gaither in playoffs

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Varsity football prepares to face Gaither in playoffs

Getting into formation at the line of scrimmage, junior linemen Sonny Burnett, senior defensive lineman Mario Lovett and senior defensive lineman Jerico DeJesus prepare for defense against Leto High School Oct. 12 at Dad’s Stadium. The varsity football team won 69-6.

Getting into formation at the line of scrimmage, junior linemen Sonny Burnett, senior defensive lineman Mario Lovett and senior defensive lineman Jerico DeJesus prepare for defense against Leto High School Oct. 12 at Dad’s Stadium. The varsity football team won 69-6.

Tegan Fannin

Getting into formation at the line of scrimmage, junior linemen Sonny Burnett, senior defensive lineman Mario Lovett and senior defensive lineman Jerico DeJesus prepare for defense against Leto High School Oct. 12 at Dad’s Stadium. The varsity football team won 69-6.

Tegan Fannin

Tegan Fannin

Getting into formation at the line of scrimmage, junior linemen Sonny Burnett, senior defensive lineman Mario Lovett and senior defensive lineman Jerico DeJesus prepare for defense against Leto High School Oct. 12 at Dad’s Stadium. The varsity football team won 69-6.

Kate Caranante, Staff Writer

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At the start of the fourth quarter Friday, Nov. 2, the varsity football team was trailing Newsome High school 36-35.  

The only other time the Panthers were not winning at the start of fourth quarter resulted in their first and single loss so far this season. Saving them from losing the final game of the regular season and possibly affect their ranking heading into the playoffs, they scored 15 unanswered points and finished the regular season 9-1. 

“I think we started off a little rough,” junior quarterback Tucker Gleason said. “I could have played a little bit better, but we really pulled together as a team at the end and we came out with the win.”  

The team had already secured a spot in the playoffs by winning the district championship the previous week, but their seed in the playoffs depended on the result of this game. Since they defeated Newsome, when the class 7A bracket was released the following morning, the varsity football team found themselves the No. 3 seed in region two. 

Gaither was catapulted into the playoffs when they upset Tampa Bay Tech 21-20 Friday, Nov. 2, and received the No. 6 seed in region two. The Panthers beat the Cowboys 44-34 in the fourth game of the season, so both teams are familiar with one another.  

Used with permission: FHSAA.org
The varsity football team finds themselves ranked as the No. 3 seed in region two of the class 7A bracket. They finished the regular season with a 9-1 record.

“Our defense did not play well in that game,” defensive coordinator Greg Meyer said. “We did win, but we gave up 34 points. I think we are all as a defense excited about the opportunity to right the wrongs and to play at our full potential, which I think will have a much different outcome statistically.”  

The Panthers average 413.1 yards of total offense and 41.2 points per game while allowing an average of 13.4 points per game. The Cowboys average 307.7 yards of total offense and 23.1 points per game while allowing an average of 11.3 points per game. 

“I feel really good about playing them because we’ve already played them, and that game was kind of the turning point for our defense,” junior linebacker Jackson Hacker said. “We’ve developed a lot since then.”  

Their first game of the playoffs will be in Dad’s Stadium Friday, Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. versus Gaither High School.

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Varsity football prepares to face Gaither in playoffs