TVS Wee Panthers off to an exciting start by J. C. Tilton
Both the JV (3/4 grade) and Varsity (5/6 grade) Wee Panthers opened their season with close thrilling games that were not decided until the end. The friends and relatives of the players got their moneys worth as the young athletes battled on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 7. The JV game saw Bradford go up 14-0, South had a TD called back on an illegal block and hopes were dimming in the 3rd quarter. But Michael Burke found a crease on a sweep and ran about 75 yards for a TD, the extra point try failed and TVS was down 14-6. Bradford answered and was able to score again in the 4th quarter, making it 21-6. Again Michael Burke broke loose from deep in Panther territory and ran about 70 yards, this time TVS went for two, made it, and suddenly it was a 21 - 14 ball game. Bradford had possession at the end of the game and were running inside, but the ball popped loose on a tackle and South regained possession. South ran two plays, but couldn't get close to the end zone. The fourth quarter was over, but the JV Panthers had played an outstanding game against a team that had won the league Super Bowl the year before. On defense, Jordan Krickenbarger had several key tackles on defense that saved TD's, several times running across the field to make a play.
The Varsity game saw TVS move the ball well in the first half. They probably had twice as many offensive plays as Bradford, but when they got close to the end zone the drives seemed to fizzle. The defense was outstanding - most Bradford possessions were 3 plays and punt. But at the half the score was 0-0, neither team could find the end zone. In the second half, Bradford was able to put together a respectable drive. They ran a lot of counter plays that caught the Panther defense over committing. They had driven inside the Panther 20 and decided to pass, it was intercepted and the biggest threat by Bradford was over. It was late in the 4th quarter when TVS put together another drive. They ran inside the tackles and got by the linebackers for 7-8 yards per carry. But they still had a ways to go and they tried to pass towards the end. A turnover gave Bradford the ball back, but the 4th quarter was almost over. It was still 0-0, so a TD would win the game. They dropped back to pass twice, the first play went nowhere. But the second Bradford pass was completed - only it was to TVS's Skylar Reckers. After the interception he took a few strides down field, then lateraled the ball to Clint Spitler. Clint sprinted down the sideline about 35 yards and scored the only TD of the afternoon. It was the last play of the game and the TVS Wee Panthers had won their first game ever. It was a surprising end to an evenly matched game. This is the second year for peewee football at South, last season both teams were winless. But this season, it looks as though both teams will be competitive.
On the next weekend, September 14, TVS hosted Bethel. The JV team got off to a roaring start, moving the ball well against the Lil Stingers. In no time the Panthers were up 14-0. Michael Burke did the bulk of the scoring but the team also moved the ball thru the air behind the arm of Dillon Ashley. He only threw a few times, but one of the passes was caught for a TD. When the final horn sounded, the TVS JV had won their first game ever by the score of 28-0. The varsity team likewise leapt out to a quick lead. An end around was ran by Clint Spitler who raced untouched to the endzone. In the next offensive series, Nick Youngerman caught a Miles McCollum pass for a second TD and the Panthers were up 14-0. The Panther defense shutdown the Bethel offense. At the end of the game, the Lil Stingers had made it to the 10, but that was as far was they made it as the 4th quarter ended. The Varsity Panthers had won 28-0.