Panthers show strength and perseverance in strong District 8-6A

Nearing+the+end+of+the+fourth+quarter+with+the+Panthers+down+by+two+scores%2C+a+player+on+the+sidelines+holds+up+a+white+board+to+encourage+the+team.+%28Karla+Estrada+Photo%29

Nearing the end of the fourth quarter with the Panthers down by two scores, a player on the sidelines holds up a white board to encourage the team. (Karla Estrada Photo)

Nearing the end of the fourth quarter with the Panthers down by two scores, a player on the sidelines holds up a white board to encourage the team. (Karla Estrada Photo)
Nearing the end of the fourth quarter with the Panthers down by two scores, a player on the sidelines holds up a white board to encourage the team. (Karla Estrada Photo)

Nearing the end of the fourth quarter in a Friday night football game against Mansfield with a score of 13-17, Duncanville took a big gamble with Senior  quarterback  Stedman Lanigan standing at his own  40 yard line needing to reach the two yard line to get a first down  with time running out on the clock. Facing a 4th and 29th for a 1st down he breaks the tackle Throwing a hail mary pass to the end zone with the game clock reading  1:07.  Senior Le’arrious Allen catches the ball in the air with both feet standing in the end zone and making a vast touchdown  giving the panthers  a superlative score of 20-17.

“I feel like we performed the second half not the first half, and we have to perform all four quarters,” football player Le’arrious Allen said after the close call against Mansfield.

Opponents view  the Panthers as an incomplete team. They are never compared to Cedar Hill or Desoto especially when other journalist are discussing the chances of these teams winning a championship. This year  however the Panthers have shown more heart than they ever have before. The team has explosive players on  the offensive side of the ball and a explosive defense that is willing to take it to last second against top ranked teams in what is arguably the toughest district in Texas.

“Evan though we make some mistakes, we know we are not perfect,” Allen said.  “For instance I dropped the ball two times in the third quarter before my big touchdown to secure the win.”

Over the past few years it has been the Panthers who gave up after the start of the second half. Many times they led games beginning and fell apart not scoring anything in the second half. Last year the Panthers missed the playoffs after giving up in the fourth quarter against a South Grand Prairie team they were suppose to win against. This year however they lost to SGP but were in the game until the very end scoring with less than two minutes left in the game.

“The fight that the team has displayed in games this year shows that we have heart, and have the makings of a good football team,” head coach Jeff Dicus says.

Every week before the game the team uses the chant “I. I Believe. I Believe that We.I Believe that we will. I Believe that  WE WILL WIN” ! They huddle up in the back of the endzone and scream this to the top of their lungs every game.  The team then comes through the Panther helmet  with drive and ambition as a team. This team has a defense that fights to the end and gives up very little in the last two quarters of play. The defense made up of the likes of E.J. Prather, Za’Carrius Green, Sami Awwad, Ashontis Cox, Sidney McFail, Xavier Brown and more has made stops when stops were needed.  With their backs against the wall needing a stop against Mansfield, the defense forced pressure on the kicker to cause a fumbled snap and secure the win for the Panthers. Key stops with 4rth and short against teams such as number 8 Waco Midway and Cedar Hill, the Defense forced a turnover on downs putting the ball back into the hands of the Panther offense for another shot at the end zone.

With major help from the defense, the Panthers have also shown they can put up big numbers on the offensive side of the ball as well. Duncanville has really stood out this season with 263.5 Receiving yards per game. On the offensive side of the team Xavier Brown alone has a accumulated  731 yards,  averageing 121 yards per game, ranking him among the top five receivers in the area. Allen is among the top 10 in the area with over 40 yards a game and  240 yards on the season. This offense has put up over 160 points against opponents including top ranked Cedar Hill, South Grand Prairie, Mesquite Horn and Waco Midway. All of these teams by the way are leaders in their districts at the moment.

“For the district games it’s all about being consistent, and with the consistency we have to have steady stats, defense and keep the play strong,” Dicus said.

The Panthers have  a goal of decreasing the turnovers, going hard in practice and conditioning well. With them doing that they will continue to have a explosive team. On paper the looks poised to make a run in the playoffs, but they must understand the game of football is not played on the paper it is played on the field. Although the team has only won a single district game so far they are still confident they can take a shot at the big one later on.

  “We are not happy about some of the losses of the season but all we need is a shot to beat these guys,” senior running back Roosevelt Richmond said.  “As long as we keep our heads up and keep going throughout the entire game, we will come out with  some big wins this season.”

With District 8-6A stacked with the best teams in the state in Cedar Hill, South Grand Prairie and Desoto, the Panthers could still emerge from the pile as a playoff team in the end.  One thing is for sure as long as they continue to go hard to the end of every game they will be a team to watch in the playoffs later down the road. This team has potential and they have shown they can stay in games to the very end and they is how playoff teams do things. The team could possibly finish even in district and advance deep in the 6A playoff picture.