In the early stages of the 2019 season, the Pattonsburg Panthers defeated the North Andrew Cardinals in a 68-62 shootout.
Less than a year later, the Panthers faced a much different result, falling to the Cardinals 74-38 Sept. 11 at Pattonsburg Stadium.
And after dropping to 2-1 on the season, Pattonsburg moves onto it’s Week 4 matchup against the King City Wildkats. Coach Scott Cavin knows how important it is to flush a loss.
“We just have to have a short memory, and guys are going to have to step up and play physical,” Cavin said. “We have to limit turnovers and just improve on offense to take care of it.”
The Panthers are led by first-year quarterback Zane Reed, who came into this season with big shoes to fill following the graduation of Steven Willhite. Willhite had one of the best individual seasons in the country last year, finishing with 5,424 yards passing and 112 total touchdowns.
The Panthers run a spread offense, which is rare in a run-heavy sport like 8-man football. Cavin still has confidence in his younger quarterback, despite showing some growing pains in Week 3.
“I’ve trusted him from the start,” Cavin said. “The best way to get him comfortable is to let him throw it around.”
Reed finished with 427 yards passing and five touchdowns against the Cardinals but struggled with turning the ball over as he threw three interceptions. He has now totaled 1,197 yards passing and 19 touchdowns throughout the first three games.
The Panthers also had to deal with losing multiple key receivers from last season and have relied on new players to step up. One of those is sophomore wideout Brody Langfitt, who had a breakout game against North Andrew in which he caught 25 passes for 291 yards and five touchdowns. The 25 receptions in a game is a new state record, according to MSHSAA.
“We have athletes we want to get the ball to, and we are gonna continue to do that with Brody and other guys,” Cavin said. “We just want to keep getting him the ball in space and let him work.”
The Wildkats enter the matchup at 1-2 following a 44-20 loss to Stanberry Sept.11. Their offense is led by running back Parker Muff, who has 702 yards rushing and nine touchdowns this season. Panthers’ Defensive Coordinator J.W. Brandt expects his defense to have its hands full trying to contain the elusive back.
“He is a good player,” Brandt said. “We’ll prepare for him by making sure we know our assignments and emphasizing team defense.”
The Panthers will need a better performance from their defense against King City after giving up 479 total yards of offense to the Cardinals. Pattonsburg will be looking for a big game from Langfitt and defensive back Cameron Jones. Langfitt has three interceptions on the season and Jones has added 14 tackles, along with an interception of his own.
After an undefeated regular season in 2019, the Panthers are disappointed in losing that goal this year. Now, they will need to finish strong to be able to complete their playoff aspirations.
“As a team, we just need to execute better,” Brandt said. “We are confident in our kids and what we are doing, but we just have to keep improving.”