Sep. 29—Stone Memorial Middle School Panthers football team may have saved their best game of the 2022 campaign for the last game. The team scored about nearly every way a team can score ... and often.
The Panthers took the bite out of the Prescott Bulldogs 53-12 to win the consolation game with the school from Putnam County. They finished their season with a 4-4 record while Prescott fell to 0-8.
The game was shortened by a rule that the clock not stop once the score reaches a certain number. The mercy rule was enforced for the entire second half.
It was a satisfying end of season for the 24 eighth graders who will be moving on to the high school team next season and a great experience for the young players to experience time on the gridiron.
There are 11 teams in the conference of middle school teams and Stone and Prescott were matched in this consolation game.
"This is one of the best teams I've coached," Head Coach Tanner Kirkland said. "I think as a team we played our best game to date. We executed what we do on both sides of the ball.
"As a coach at this level, you want your players to start building a foundation to become a great person in life. Our players all bought into our culture and that's all you can ask for out of a team."
Kirkland recognized the play of the young men in the offensive trenches that created some holes that allowed the backs to score.
"Our five guys upfront really set the tone for our success on offense," said Kirkland. "Colt Hays, Brayden Thompson, Cooper Disney, Josh Dishman and Teddy Dannel. Without them we don't make plays or get results."
Quarterback Ethan Looper led the offensive attack and "always made sure everybody was lined up where they needed to be. Dylan Phillips was our big playmaker at receiver and is a natural leader on and off the field," Kirkland continued.
"AJ Vandever is arguably the most explosive player (running back) in our conference and as a 7th grader had some really big production."
The defense shined as well, making the contest a complete team effort. "Lincoln Eldridge, Kyle Hinch and Brayden Marsh were our anchors. Lincoln was our lock-down guy in coverage and Kyle and Brayden were our downhill linebackers who made big plays."
Coach Kirkland also had praise for Prescott. "Coach Dzioba does a great job and I respect all he is doing with the culture that he is building within that program."
"The significance of this game was our kids had another chance to go through another week of practice and play another week together," Kirkland said. "As a coach, you want your players to play and practice as much as they can together."
And, it was a memorable game the Panthers won together.
Michael Moser may be reached at email@example.com