If you were wearing a Mackay Miners football uniform, you really didn't want to be anywhere near the fired-up Carey Panthers Friday night during a pivotal Sawtooth Conference eight-man football clash on the Carey gridiron.
There were a lot of hard, clean, bone-crunching hits. Mackay players carrying the ball were running for their lives. Thirteen times the Miners made zero or negative yardage, and that doesn't count the nine quarterback sacks.
Carey coach Lane Kirkland said, "Our defense has never been better. Coach (Lee) Cook's defense was burning nitro. We defended the pass well against the league's best passing quarterback and stuffed their running game. And coach (Lane) Durtschi's linemen opened and closed holes all night."
Punishing Mackay the most at Derrick Parke Memorial Field was 5-11, 190-pound senior Heith Adamson, Carey's scoring leader with 13 touchdowns and 82 points, and also the defensive star at linebacker.
"Heith went crazy—a tremendous night. He hits like he means it," said Kirkland. "Heith had a great offensive and defensive game. He hit everything that moved and was laying the wood. He does everything he asks his teammates to do. And he sets the example for his teammates—like, he says, come and follow me, boys."
Adamson and his undefeated Panthers came to play smash-mouth football and they stuck Mackay with some of the hardest hits you'll see on a football field. The result was a 36-14 Carey victory over Mackay.
Adamson rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns and added a game-high 18 tackles for the #3-ranked Panthers (7-0, 5-0 league). His running mate Gonzalo Zarate (25 carries, 175 yards, 2 TD, 8 tackles) was another big factor.
Kirkland said, "Heith and Gonzalo have really been fun to watch this season. They are two powerful fullbacks with breakaway speed and powerful blocking skills. They blocked for each other well all night."
It was a total team effort.
Throwing only two passes all night, Carey piled up 358 rushing yards. Combined with a 58-12 league win at Dietrich Oct. 10, the outcome meant the Panthers (48.0 ppg) have rushed for 870 yards in the last two games. "Our line absolutely dominated," said Kirkland.
After the game, Adamson said, "We came out and played old-time football. We kept hitting and battling and we played with a lot of pride. It was a big win for us. We defended our field and kept our heads about us. I'm proud of my boys."
Not only did Carey extend its three-season Sawtooth Conference win streak to 23 games, the #3-ranked Panthers took a major step toward their fourth consecutive Sawtooth league championship. And #4-ranked Mackay (7-1, 5-1) fell into second in the eight-team league.
In a very emotional and physical contest, Carey prevailed by establishing its power running game in the scoreless first quarter and taking it to Mackay in the second with a 28-6 scoring edge. A 55-yard TD burst by Adamson and 64-yard TD run around the right end by Zarate set the rout in motion.
Mackay made the mistake of being distracted by Carey and the developments of the game.
For instance, Adamson's TD burst up the middle came on the first play after Mackay's Zach Donnot was ejected from the game for unsportsmanlike conduct. And Zarate's long TD explosion came on the first offensive play after Mackay had pulled within two, 8-6.
Kirkland said, "We talked all week about the role emotion would play in the game. We held our emotions in check and let our actions do all the talking. Our kids demonstrated aggressive, focused football as well as good sportsmanship."
The object of Carey's defensive effort was containing Mackay's 170-pound junior quarterback Kole Krosch. A great scrambler and an accurate passer, Krosch was in constant peril with Carey's blitz. Still, he managed to slip away multiple times before the pursuing tacklers put him away.
Krosch rushed for only 93 yards and threw for only 70. Mackay's rushing yardage amounted to only 163 on 42 hair-raising carries, many of them Krosch running for his life. He completed only seven passes, Carey's Dillon Simpson throwing a blanket over top Miner receiver Scott Smyer.
"We put great pressure on Kole and were laying some good, hard hits. And we shut down their pass. I thought in the third quarter they pretty much went back to their running game," said Kirkland.
Mackay had the ball for nearly two-thirds of the second half and kept the Panther defense on the field. But, with a 36-6 lead by the end of third quarter, Carey could sit back and concentrate on contain and tackle—and stay focused despite the hollering and screaming from the Mackay sideline.
Doing the down-and-dirty work on the Carey offensive line were center Andrew Carlson, guards Todd Peck and "Birthday Boy" Tyler Chavez, along with Wacey Barg and Dillon Simpson.
"We won because we stuck to the immediate task at hand, one play at a time, and were never distracted," said Kirkland. "We have come together as a team and our line has showed tremendous and rapid maturity. As a coaching staff we couldn't be prouder."
Carey, last year's state runner-up and the 2006 champion, has two more games to nail down the top District 4/5/6 seed for November's eight-team 1A Division 2 playoffs. The Panthers visit Murtaugh (2-5, 2-4) Friday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m.
The Red Devils had their two-game win streak snapped by Camas County 48-22 Friday in Fairfield. Carey hasn't had much trouble with Murtaugh the past four years on the gridiron, winning four games by a cumulative 206-24 score.
Carey wraps up its home season Friday, Oct. 31 against North Gem of Bancroft (4-3, 3-2). Barring a Dietrich upset at Mackay this Friday, North Gem is Carey's likely first-round playoff foe Nov. 7—meaning that Carey by beating the Cowboys on Halloween will be playing North Gem on its home field twice in two weeks.
With a win over Dietrich this Friday, Mackay will be the Sawtooth second seed and will likely host #3-seeded Richfield (4-2, 3-2) in the first round.
In another big Division 2 clash last Friday, #2 ranked Garden Valley (7-0) beat #5-ranked defending state champion Salmon River (6-1) by a score of 44-20. Garden Valley is averaging 51.7 ppg. The top ranked team is Kootenai (7-0).
Check today's Express Web site for game statistics from Friday's Carey-Mackay clash.