Panthers close out regular season tonight


Isaiah Rosner

NC closes the season with a home game against Ben Davis. Last year, this game gave the Panthers an opportunity to win the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference. This year, there will be no such opportunity, as Center Grove has already secured a perfect record in the MIC.

The 3-5 Giants have played some good games, but have also struggled to defend consistently. The team has allowed 27 or more points in each of their five losses.
That said, a week ago, they played their most complete game of the season.

BD was up 42-0 against Lawrence Central at halftime, which ended up being the final score. Junior Chris Patterson threw for 226 yards and a score, and had 38 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The team rushed for 204 yards and five total touchdowns, with junior Devon Wiley responsible for 108 and one.

NC played a much closer game last Friday. In fact, it was their second overtime win of the season. This one was a 27-21 victory over Pike that ended with a Josiah Green fumble recovery and a David Smith touchdown in the extra period.

On offense, the 6-2 Panthers have continued to rely heavily on the production of seniors Theran Johnson and David Smith.
Johnson, who starts at both cornerback and wide receiver, has racked up 661 yards through the air and 141 on the ground. He has 10 total touchdowns.
Smith has been the only running back on the team to get significant touches each week. He has been given the rock 145 times, and has accumulated 833 of the team’s 1,007 yards rushing. Smith has carried the ball across the goal line seven times so far.

On defense, junior Zion Woods, who starts at strong safety, has been virtually everywhere. He has 88 tackles, which is 10 more than anyone else on the team.
Seniors Micah and Josiah Green have been the most disruptive in the run game. Each of them have achieved double digits in the “tackles for loss” category. Senior Eugene Cooper is the team’s top pass rusher, with seven sacks and 21 quarterback hurries. This is even more impressive when noted that he generally lines up as a defensive tackle rather than an end.

BD has experimented with two quarterbacks, but seems to have settled on junior Chris Patterson. Patterson has thrown for three touchdowns and two interceptions thus far.

The Giants use a number of players in the running game. The back with the most ground yards is Brandon Fuentes, with 441. Fuentes has gone over 100 yards in a game twice this season.

The offense utilizes a lot of wide receivers as well. Senior Rylen Richardson, though only fourth on the team in catches, is first in yards with 389 and three touchdowns in just 13 receptions. One of these scores went for 97 yards.

Junior Donell Mason is of note too. He’s caught the ball 27 times for 375 yards and three touchdowns.

On defense, senior Charles Knuckols is the tackle king with 65. Senior Daylan Carnell has been the best secondary player, at least on paper. Carnell has two interceptions, and has batted the ball down three other times.

NC is eighth in Class 6A in the Associated Press Media Poll, and ninth in the Coaches Poll. BD remains unranked in both.

In two weeks from this game, the playoffs will begin for 6A. NC will be at home for a third straight outing, taking on the Warren Central Warriors.

If they win, they will match up with either Lawrence North at home, or Lawrence Central away. BD faces Southport on the road. A victory for them will mean a game at Perry Meridian, or at home against Indianapolis Tech. — by Isaiah Rosner