By Andrew Luberda
The Panthers’ football team lost three key players during the first quarter of their season opener at Mesa Prep on August 30, 2013. Running back Edgar Galindo, quarterback Nicolaus Cruz, and linebacker Matthew Zavala all suffered injuries and did not return in the 46 – 6 loss to the Monsoons.
Mesa Prep entered the game with a pre-season ranking of seventh in the state. The young Panthers were not intimidated by the Monsoons’ lofty ranking and played them tightly throughout the first half.
“I liked our effort in the first half,” said Panthers’ head coach Ryan Palmer after the game. “The kids really played well and they went toe-to-toe with (Mesa Prep).”
The Panthers were able to move the ball offensively against the Monsoons. The Panthers’ scoring drive was highlighted by a pass completion from Nicolaus Cruz to Austin Navarette. After Edgar Galindo ran the ball to the six-yard line, Cruz, a freshman, scored on a 6-yard TD run. The Panthers trailed the Monsoon at the half, 7 – 6.
“We were absolutely in the game,” Palmer said about his team’s first half performance.
The injuries were too much to overcome during the second half for the young Panthers’ team. With several players playing out of position, or playing different positions, the Monsoons were able to take advantage.
Coach Palmer said the Panthers’ showed good potential as evidenced by their first half execution against a highly-ranked opponent. He said it’s important his players focus on that success as they continue through the season.
The Panthers open the home portion of their season Friday, September 6 versus Gilbert Christian. Game time is 7:00 p.m.
Injury update: Coach Palmer said Edgar Galindo, a freshman, is expected to be out 1 – 2 weeks, Nicolaus Cruz is out for 1 week, and he is hopeful junior Matthew Zavala can return for this week’s game.