Column: Panthers set to open district, should have no problem with first two opponents

This is how everyone starts district play Friday Night.

This is how everyone starts district play Friday Night.

The Panthers got their first taste of the new district last year. With a few new teams and some familiar rivals. The team showed they have the ability to outperform most of them. After the teams good performance last year, much is expected from the Panthers this season.

This is how everyone starts district play Friday Night.

The Panthers are going into district with a 2-1 record. Many of the other teams however have struggled in their pre-season match ups. Here’s a look at what we’ve seen so far from the other seven teams.

Grand Prairie (0-3)

The Gophers’ season has not encountered much luck so far this season. They played a close game with Bishop lynch losing 16-13, but have otherwise suffered big defeats to Lewisville and W.T. White. They still have one of their key players, senior wide receiver Devante Lacy, who has 16 receptions for 323 yards and two touchdowns. Their new quarter back, junior Brandon Fitcher, has had a decent start with 611 yards for four touchdowns and three interceptions, but needs the rest of the team to help back him up. Everything would point to a Duncanville win in the district opener, but the Gophers have dangerous players nonetheless.

Midlothian (2-1)

Midlothian’s start to the season has been decent so far. They lost their first game to Grapevine 23-14, but have since rescued wins against Saginaw and Justin Northwest, though none of their opponents have been of too high a caliber. Their quarterback, senior Bryce Murphy has been their number one weapon. He’s completed for 345 yards and three touchdowns but also leads the team in rushing with 338 yards and five touchdowns. But aside from Murphy, they don’t really have any other major threats. None of their receivers have accumulated more than 100 yards. The Panthers should be careful with Murphy when they face them for their homecoming game.

Mansfield (3-0)

Mansfield is coming in hot just as they did the season before. It also seems they have another strong running back, just as they did last year, with junior Kenneth Burks, who leads the team in rushing yards, receiving yards, and points. Senior quarterback, Jerod Evans, has also had a decent start with 484 passing yards and six touchdowns. But the strength of this team is definitively on the ground. Mansfield could also be the first real challenge for Duncanville. The outcome of this game could have a big influence on the rest of the season.

South Grand Prairie (1-2)

The Warriors didn’t have too bad a season last year finishing 4th in the district. They didn’t, however, create too many problems for the Panthers. So far they’ve lost their last two games, to Mesquite and North Mesquite, both of which (especially N. Mesquite) have started their seasons well, compared to the previous seasons’ performances. Senior quarterback, Jared Johnson, has thrown for 466 yards and five touchdowns. But their most important player for the Warriors so far has been Louis Dailey, who leads the team in scoring. But if the Warriors cannot step up a level they might end up with the mediocre season they had last year.

Mansfield Timberview (3-0)

A surprise so far in the season, Timberview is 3-0. The whole season last year Timberview only won three games, but those were, however, all in district. Alot of that early success is thanks to their quarterback, senior Charles Taylor. He leads the team with 569 rushing yards and seven touchdowns and junior Josh Smith is not far behind with 353 yards. Like Mansfield, Timberview is showing signs of being a very strong team on the ground. Consequently they aren’t pulling in big numbers in the passing game. But they haven’t needed too so far. If Timberview maintain the pace, expect a heated battle when they face the Panthers in October.

Mansfield Legacy (0-3)

The Broncos haven’t had a victory yet, but they have faced some quality teams so far. Legacy have suffered their losses to Hurst L.D. Bell, Mansfield Summit, and Plano. Sophomore running back Kijana Amous, has rushed for 266 yards but has yet to score. Senior quarterback, DeCarlos Humphrey has been making the effort to get his team forward with 12 points and yardage in running, passing, and receiving. Last season the Broncos only won one game, the last of the season against Legacy, they’ve started out this year exactly the same. If they don’t pick it up, it could be a another one win season, or winless even.

Cedar Hill (1-2)

The bitter rival of the Panthers, the Longhorns’ one victory so far has been against Dention Guyer. They lost to a good Allen and were surprisingly blown out by DeSoto. Much is always expected from this team in district, no matter what the prior record. But this might be the first season in a while in which they might not be one of the top contenders. Junior running back, Jared Rayford leads the team with 274 yards and three touchdowns. But the Longhorns haven’t found much other rhythm. Regardless of how they do during the season, the last game against the Panthers will surely be one of the best in the state.

Duncanville (2-1)

The Panthers started off fairly strong, though they lost a very close game to Colleyville Heritage at the Cotton bowl. But have since been building on the fundamentals and have won their last two encounters against Garland and North Crowley. A big part of that has been thanks to junior running back, Jaquan Cole with an impressive 403 yards and five touchdowns. Senior quarterback, Deandre Grimes has also been pulling in big numbers with 694 passing yards and five touchdowns. No doubt the Panthers are a favorite to finish first in the district. Many even expect the Panthers to be a contender for the state title especially since they are under the leadership of Coach Jeff Dicus who took his former team Lake Travis to the State championship in four years and they are still winning them four years later.

The Panthers could possibly be heading into one of their best years in a long time. Their journey toward a state championship begins Friday night against Grand Prairie in the district opener.