By Andrew Luberda
The Panthers’ football team had their full roster of players for the first time in a while and they showed how dangerous they can be with everyone healthy. They defeated Hayden, which was celebrating their Homecoming, 58 – 14.
“This was the first game we were truly healthy and it made a big difference,” head coach Ryan Palmer said.
The Panthers started the game with a bang as they recovered the opening onside kick and completed a double pass for a touchdown to take a quick lead, 7 – 0. On their next possession, the Panthers scored again and were quickly ahead, 14 – 0.
“It was a good start to the game,” Palmer said. “We were able to get the early momentum.”
Several players we able to return to their original positions and, according to Coach Palmer, made the performance of the entire team much better.
The Panthers’ attack was led by Nicolaus Cruz with 334 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns, four passing and two rushing. Matthew Zavala and Austin Navarette also had passing touchdowns in the game. Edgar Galindo had two TD receptions.
Marcus Hiracheta and Eric Oatis paced the defense with nine and seven tackles respectively. Oatis also had three sacks in the game. Hiracheta had one sack.
After the game, Coach Palmer was excited about his team’s performance and is looking forward to more success as the season progresses.
“The kids stepped up and played tough,” he said. “I was really impressed with our defense.”
The early season struggles provided some good experience even without the satisfying results and the team expects it to pay dividends going forward.
“We showed we could compete and that the potential is there,” Palmer said. “It’s a whole new season for us.”