By Matt Danely For the Pharos-Tribune Oct 19, 2018
ROYAL CENTER — The Pioneer Panthers came into their first game of the tournament with the confidence and manpower to make a statement to those looking on. You could say they did that with an 86-0 walloping of the South Newton Rebels at the Pit Friday night.
“They’re going to run their scheme tonight, and we’re going to run ours,” Pioneer coach Adam Berry explained before the kickoff. “They’re going to open it up and put the ball in the air and our kids are going to be there to make plays.”
The Panthers (10-0) absolutely took care of business Friday night and never allowed the Rebels (0-10) the chance to get any momentum going for them at all. Berry knew his team simply had to be a fundamental group and the rest would take care of itself, and he was right.
The Panthers came out hot and were about as efficient on both sides of the ball as you could ever hope to be. They needed only two plays to put up their first touchdown of the night as Danny Gregorich took the ball 28 yards to the end zone, and they maintained that blistering pace throughout the contest.
The Pioneer offense ripped off big play after big play to put the game out of reach quite early in this one forcing a running clock before the end of the first half. Of the Panthers’ 16 first-half plays, the ball crossed the goal line eight times.
Quarterback Jack Kiser scored three times, twice on runs of 4 and 10 yards respectively and on a 16-yard pass to Miles VonTobel. Gregorich scored twice on runs of 28 and 7 yards, Von Tobel also scored on the ground from 7 yards out and Addai Lewellen put the ball into the end zone on runs of 13 and 45 yards. This was a busy first half to say the least.
The Panthers’ defense was at the top of their game as well throughout the game not allowing a Rebels’ drive to extend past three plays until the very last possession of the game as the Panthers’ junior varsity took the field. Pioneer’s stoppers held South Newton to minus-3 yards in the first half and 34 total yards for the game. Kiser, Lewellen and Derek Wireman tallied interceptions Friday night off Rebels’ quarterback Levi Sample, and Lewellen took his back for a touchdown.
The Panthers’ scoring was topped off by Lewellen’s third offensive touchdown of the game from 22 yards out and an explosive 41-yard run from Kwintin Heiny on his only carry of the game.
Following the game Kiser acknowledged some of the shortcomings of the game that you wouldn’t think existed with such a one-sided affair, but this group of Panthers are perfectionists.
“We’ve got some stuff to clean up – the ball hitting the turf, some drops on potential big plays and a few blown assignments that may not have been obvious – and we’ll do that and come back next week and put it all together,” Kiser said. “I’m so proud of our defense, and the guys up front do such a great job week-in and week-out to get us those monster holes to run through – you just can’t say enough about them.”
The battle in the trenches has always been key for the Panthers, especially with the scheme that they run. Friday night was no different. The offensive and defensive lines dominated the entire game and these front-lines, who prepare endlessly throughout the season, set the tone every Friday night for those who receive the spotlight behind them. But those playmakers never let them forget how important they are to the team’s success.