The Panthers’ time is coming
All season long first year head coach Bernard Euell has told me that if his Panthers football team would quit turning the ball over, they’d have more than three wins.
After watching Yazoo County’s 35-0 loss to Cleveland Friday night, I totally agree with him.
The Panthers fumbled twice and had a blocked punt that led to all 21 points scored by Cleveland in the third quarter. Prior to that, Yazoo County had only trailed 7-0 headed into halftime. In fact, the Panthers went into halftime with some momentum.
If not for an interception by Justin Mills in the end zone Cleveland would have led 14-0 at halftime and no thoughts of a comeback would have walked through my mind. But those thoughts did cross my mind.
Sure, the Panthers’ offense didn’t do much show that an upset victory might be coming with three out of their four drives ending in a punt. That doesn’t mean Euell wouldn’t be able to make any halftime changes to get the offense going. The same can be said about Yazoo County’s defense, who allowed the Wildcats to move the ball at will most of the time.
When you give any football team the ball at your 26-yard line, though, you’re asking for trouble. That’s exactly what took place at the start of the second half.
The Panthers’ first two possessions of the half both ended in fumbles and Cleveland held a 21-0 lead after nine minutes of play. At that point, any momentum was zapped from Yazoo County’s sideline.
Yazoo County has a football team that could win more than three games in a season. They have a running game that, when not fumbling the ball, keeps possession away from the opposition and a defense that can stop even the best offenses (Yazoo City and Cleveland both have great offenses and the Panthers both put the brakes on them at one point). They even have a quarterback (Marlo Watkins) that can throw the ball well enough to keep opposing defenses honest.
When you turn the ball over three or four times in a game, none of that matters.
Unfortunately, the problems that plague Yazoo County isn’t something that can be completely fixed in one week. On the bright side, at least turnovers is something that can be fixed (unlike lack of talent).
The brutal truth is this year isn’t the year we see the Panthers return to being one of the dominant teams in 4A. That doesn’t mean all hope should be lost, though. The Panthers’ time is coming. Just ask their coach.
“Let it be known to people out there that we will get there. There’s always another time,” Euell said during our post-game interview. “Trust me, Yazoo County’s time is coming.”
Fix the turnovers and that time will come a lot sooner.