Panthers hold on to victory
A triumphant homecoming in Carey
By MICHAEL AMES
Connor Rivera (#10) provides pass protection as Tyler Cook rolls out. Photo by Willy Cook
The Carey Panthers (2-1) held on to their game-long lead over the Dietrich Blue Devils on Friday night at Derrick Parke Memorial Field in Carey, capturing a victorious homecoming and the season?s second win.
Suiting not a single senior on their eight-man squad, the Panthers are nevertheless beginning to gel as a team, with juniors, sophomores, and freshman all stepping up to the demands of playing both sides of the ball, delivering key plays at key times.
Junior defensive end Tadd Green, number 27, was a major force on defense, reading plays far in advance of their formation and executing several tackles behind the Blue Devils line of scrimmage. His 9 solo tackles and 1 sack led the scrappy Panther defense. Also strong on defense was junior Luke Harmon with 5 solo stops. On offense, it was a freshman, number 10 Connor Rivera who spearheaded the Carey rushing effort with 25 carries for 153 yards. Rivera found a friend in sophomore Cody Baird whose added size from last season has made him a formidable blocking back for the younger counterpart Rivera. Baird was perhaps the team?s most consistent player on both sides of the ball: at linebacker he accounted for 4 solo tackles, an interception and a presence on almost every Panther gang tackle.
At 9:41 of the second quarter, Rivera opened the scoring lead for Carey that would not be broken all night with a 6 yard run straight through the middle of the spotty Dietrich defense. The conversion was good; junior quarterback Tyler ?Cookie? Cook?s pass to tight end Green who complimented his defensive leadership by pulling down Cook?s pass for the additional 2 points and an 8-0 Panther lead.
With a under a minute remaining in the half, Dietrich senior quarterback Bryant Pittman ran the ball in on a QB sneak reminding the crowd and the Panthers that these Blue Devils were not gone, not finished, and that the victors of this game would be fighting for their prize. The conversion was not completed, but the 8-6 score promised the fans a hot second half. The full Carey stands were energized for halftime?s Homecoming tradition.
Homecoming is not just another Friday night for this school of 255 students (K-12). The school, founded in 1921 has been celebrating their homecoming in the same fashion for as many years as any Carey resident can remember.
This year it was senior Melissa Peck leading the Royalty as Homecoming Queen with junior Lacey Peterson, sophomore Brittany Hennefer, and freshman Katrina Molyneux joining her on the royal float. Flash bulbs ignited to capture the four as the players, Baird, Green, Cook and junior Devin Simpson, each presented a girl with a rose, a tiara (one upside down), and a smooch on the cheek.
Solid Dietrich efforts not enough in 2nd half.
The second half opened with a Carey turnover. But Dietrich could not capitalize and Carey?s third possession was a long drive eventually slowed, but not stopped, by a tough Blue Devil red zone defense.
On second and goal, Baird was tackled behind his own line of scrimmage Dietrich seemed to be mounting an unbreakable goal line stand. Third down saw a perfect Cook pass dropped by Baird on the goal line with no defenders near him. Carey?s youth seemed to be working against them.
But on fourth down, with the go-ahead score within reach, junior quarterback Cook focused and threw a second perfect pass, this time to sophomore Brad Hunt who held on to the ball and gave his team the 14-6 lead.
Two possessions later, Dietrich quarterback Pitman let loose a beautiful pass to a streaking Augustino Venegas for a 32 yard gain. With momentum, Pitman got off another pass, this one to younger brother Anthony Pitman on a dangerous pattern through the middle of the Panther defense where he was hit hard twice, but held on for the reception and an 8 yard gain. Finishing the drive on his own power, Pitman then ran in it from twenty yards out on a QB draw for the touchdown and a 14-12 game.
The sizable, standing Blue Devil crowd was in a frenzy, but could do nothing but watch as Carey regained possession and drove the length of the field behind runs by Rivera and pass completions to Baird. The Dietrich defense helped Carey with back-to-back defensive penalties: encroachment followed by a 5 yard facemask gave the Panthers an unearned first-and-goal and an invitation to take an 8 point lead with 3 minutes remaining.
Rivera did almost that with a 9 yard run to the Blue Devil one yard line. Quarterback Cook eventually threaded a hole through the thick Dietrich defensive line and delivered the score for Carey giving them the final 20-12 lead. But his conversion pass completion was stopped with a big defensive hit on the one yard line, giving the Blue Devils a glimmer of hope with under two minutes remaining to tie the game.
An excited and over-confident Carey kickoff squad almost let their lead slide away as Dietrich?s Fabriciano Venegas ran for a long return just over the midfield line into Panther territory. But some late hard defense stopped Dietrich in their path. Baird delivered the final huge hit of the game, upending the Dietrich receiver and Carey regained possession, took a knee and brought the game to a close.
After the clock ran down, Head Carey Coach Lane Kirkland told the guys ?way to hang on? for the win.
After losing their last home game, Kirkland said his team ?had to understand that they were the ones who had to perform on the field?and they did?they performed,? he said happily. Next week Carey plays Bancroft away in North Gem.
Carey 20, Dietrich 12
Carey?Rivera 6yd run (pass complete to Tad Green) at 9:41 2nd ,(8-0 C).
Dietrich?Bryant Pitman 7yd run (conversion failed) at :58 2nd, (8-6 C).
Carey?Hunt, 6yd pass from Cook (conversion pass failed) at 6:00 3rd, (14-6 C).
Dietrich?Pitman 20yd run at 10:40 4th, (14-12 C).
Carey?Cook 1yd run at 2:30 4th (20-12 C).
Individual Leaders ? Carey
Rushing?Rivera 25-153, TD; Baird 17-67; Hunt 1-20; Cook 4-19 TD.
Passsing?Cook 7-15, 56 yds, INT.
Receiving?Baird 3-27; Rivera 1-13; Hunt 2-13; Green 1-3.
Turnovers?Rivera 1, Cook 1.
Tackles?Green 8 solo, 2 assist, 1 sack; Baird 4/5 INT; Jesus Ocampo 2/4; Hunt 4/2; Brian Adamson 1/2/sack; Bryan Hill 0/3/sack; Cook 1/5.
Offensive MVP: Connor Rivera.
Defensive MVP: Tad Green