The 2020 season has not been favorable to the Panthers. They have made strides and have shown glimpses of the team they want to be, but they are having trouble playing a complete game to get in the win column for the first time this season. Prattville came to Panther Stadium last Friday night and left with a 31-3 victory and is currently 1-3, 0-2 in region play for the season.
Like every game this season, the lopsided score isn’t a good representation of how the game was actually played. Both teams were almost identical offensively with Prattville gaining 245 yards and Smiths Station with a season high 206 yards of offense. The biggest stat that separated the two teams were drives resulting in turnovers or punts. It is simple, Prattville scored touchdowns and Smiths Station settled for punts for most of the game. The Panther offense improved from the Central game the week before, only committing two turnovers, and had many drives that started well and ended with self-inflicted mistakes.
Smiths Station received the ball first and came out on offense on fire. The first drive was ended with a 25-yard field goal by sophomore Joshua Childs to cap off an 18 play, 47-yard drive that lasted over nine minutes. The 3-0 lead was Smiths Station’s first lead of the season. The Panthers changed up their offensive scheme; briefly running out of the shotgun, and it showed some positive results. Senior Corey Minton was 3-for-4 throwing the ball and seniors Jhameir Gore and Rylan Cowart both ran with the ball to move the Panthers forward.
After Prattville responded with a touchdown to claim the lead, the Panther offense started to stutter-step and punt for the remaining possessions in the first half. The first couple of drives in the second half ended with punts and multiple three-and-outs and fell behind the Prattville offense scoring touchdown after touchdown.
The final drive of the game had Smiths Station knocking on the door for a last minute touchdown. Starting with the ball on their own 20-yard line, the offense mustered up 64-yards on eleven plays, all on the ground with a rushing attack led by Minton, Gore, and linebacker Jordan Jones. While it was too late for a field goal, the Panthers elected to go for the touchdown on fourth down but resulted in a turnover.
Coach Mike Glisson wasn’t disappointed with his team’s effort but realizes there is some spots for improvement,
“It was not one of our better performances overall but they played hard and physically,” Glisson said. “We just have to get clicking and we’re not clicking like we need to be.”
The Panthers welcome a bi-week this week before heading to Alexander City to play Benjamin Russell next Friday.
As for this week, Glisson is focusing on Smiths Station. So far in the year Glisson is pleased with his defensive play. All three of the teams that played are ranked in the top 10 in the state of Alabama in either 6A or 7A. The scores reflected aren’t entirely on the defense allowing touchdowns but some coming from mistakes made on offense or special teams. Jordan Jones, TJ Morgan, and Mike Mellage have been some standouts on defense so far this year.
“We will grow from it, learn from it and get better from it,” Glisson said, after the Panthers played a tough three game stretch.
Another bright spot of the season is third year team captain Corey Minton who has carried this offense on his back every game this season. Minton has played the role of quarterback and running back this year by being the team’s leading rusher.
“Minton is a winner in all aspects, he is a fine young man and I can’t say enough good things about Corey,” Glisson said.