By Chad Dixon
For the first time since 2015, the Smiths Station Panthers have started the season 2-0 after defeating the Valley Rams 27-0 on the road on Aug. 31 in a rain shortened game. A heavy drizzle began to fall as D.J. Moffett scored the Panthers’ fourth touchdown of the evening with 5:35 remaining in the third quarter. The heavens began to open up for the better part of the next 15 minutes and the game was eventually called.
“You always run the risk of injury in those types of conditions. I think we could have played it out if the game had been closer,” said Smiths Station Head Coach Mike Glisson.
“With both of us having big region games the following week, I think it was the best call for everyone. It was a no-brainer on our part.”
The Panthers forced a fumble with 4:40 remaining in the opening quarter that resulted in a four-yard touchdown run for L.C. Harris with 1:53 remaining in the quarter. The Panthers led 7-0 after a successful kick from Taylor Walker.
Smiths Station started the second quarter with the ball on the Rams’ 30-yard line. They would complete a 70-yard drive in a little under four-minutes when Payton Wiggins had a nine-yard touchdown run with 8:06 remaining in the half. The Panthers extended their lead to 14-0 after Taylor’s second kick.
Smiths Station totaled 241 rushing yards and held Valley to just two at halftime. This was a part of the game plan constructed by Glisson and his staff.
“We mainly are worried about Smiths Station but we did scheme for Valley. We wanted to run the football and throw it when we needed to,” Glisson added.
The Smiths Station quarterback duo of Corey Minton and Jacob Blackmon combined for 64 passing yards. Minton was 2-for-5 (56 yards) and Blackmon was 2-for-4 (8 yards). Minton completed a 57-yard pass to Dre Cooper with 4:28 remaining in the second quarter to help extend the Smiths Station lead to 21-0 after the PAT.
Harris led the Panthers with 98 rushing yards on 15 carries with a 33-yard long. Kyran Hall added 70 rushing yards on seven carries. He had three tackles with four assists on defense as well. Smiths Station had 305 total yards to Valley’s 23.
With the 27th edition of the Backyard Brawl against Central High looming, Glisson wants his team to stay focus on their selves.
“Central is no doubt a top one or two program in the state. On Friday night, I just wanted them to enjoy being 2-0 but also know there is a lot of work to do. We need to stay focused on us. Being 2-0 right now is immeasurable. These are kids that were put down, but have a lot of guts for continuing to play,” Glisson stated.
The region opener for Smiths Station and Central is set for Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. ET at Panther Stadium in Smiths Station. Central’s last defeat in the series came in 2008 when Smiths Station edged out the Red Devils 27-24 at the same venue as tomorrow’s contest.