North Upended by St. Henry
J. C. Tilton
As many folks are aware the Midwest Athletic Conference ‘the MAC' is the premier small school league in the state. The league has won their share of state championships over the years and has a reputation of playing high caliber, hard hitting football. Tri County North has played some good football themselves this season and dominated almost everyone they played. But could not stand up to a bigger and deeper (71 player roster!) St. Henry football team.
The Panthers gradually got wore down as the game progressed. However, their opening drive was typical Panther football. Using Zumstein to carry in between the tackles and an occasional run from Josh Linder the Panthers moved the ball down field in a clock eating drive. The Redskin defense stiffened and the Panthers gave up the ball on downs at the Redskin 13 yard line. The Redskins drove the other direction, but also had to give the ball up when a 4th down pass play fell incomplete at the Panther 37. The first quarter ended with the score 0-0, giving the vocal Panther faithful something to cheer about as the team showed that they could play with Redskins.
In the second quarter the potent Redskin offense came alive. They completed a pass on the Panther 8 and ran the ball in for their first score. North's next drive ended at midfield where they had to punt. The Redskins combined both the pass and the run to set up their next touchdown. As time was winding down in the quarter TCN gamely tried to answer. On a third and 20 play, the Panthers reached into their playbook and a halfback pass from Heindl to Matt Ferguson put the Panthers into Redskin territory - the 34 yard line. But the Panthers could not push the ball any further as the first half ended.
The Redskins opened the second half with a punishing running game, but switched to the pass. Chris Rust of the Panthers crushed this drive with a third down sack, which forced the Redskins to punt. This punt ended up on the three yard line. The Panthers could not get out of this hole. Forced to punt from the endzone, they barely got the kick away and it was short - allowing a Redskin return to the 15. The Panthers dug in their heels and only allowed a field goal.
But this set the tone for the remainder of the second half. The Panthers offense could muster a few first downs, but could not sustain a drive. The Redskin defense kept the Panthers on their half of the field. This gave the Redskin offense a short field to work with and as the Panthers wore down, the Redskins kept up the pressure. The 17-0 Redskin lead gradually increased. By the end of the game the weary Panthers were on the wrong side of a 38-0 score.
It was a frustrating way to the end the season. But the Panthers still made it to the playoffs for the first time in over a decade (the last time was also under Derringer) and had a 9-2 record. The team has had a positive turnaround since Bill Derringer took over as head coach. Reputedly this is to be his last year, but after this run one wonders if he may not want to come back for another crack at the MAC. Comments email: Chris Tilton