Sports Column: Panthers keep getting better each week

Sports Column: Panthers keep getting better each week
After a big lay against South Grand Prairie, wide receiver Jalen Parker and receivers coach Matt Allen celebrate in the endzone. (Keria Jinks photo)

The Panthers were expected to perform better this season than they did last year after an early playoff exit to which they barely made it to. But those hopes and expectations started to look more like dreams when the season first started off 0-2.
The Panthers got off to a slow start, not because they couldn’t score. They definitely proved they could putting up over 90 points in the first two games. They just lacked the ability to maintain a lead, even by a good margin. They lost the season opener to Colleyville Heritage in the last minute after blowing a 14-point lead with less than a minute left in regulation play, and lost the second game against Garland after leading the Owls by the same number till the final quarter.

Recently however, the Panthers have shown a tremendous change of results. The team has been especially notable on the defense. Over the past five games, the Panther defense has allowed a total of 107 points. That’s only eight points more than they allowed over the first two games. The Panthers ended their bad start by defeating North Crowley 52-25. This was a relatively easy game against an inferior opponent and it didn’t bring much ease to the Panthers, but it was a win.
“We played better defense for four quarters than what we’ve been able to do the past two weeks,” Coach Jeff Dicus said. “We’re very pleased, ready to get this week over with and get on to week 1 of district.”
After that, it was a smooth ride. The Panthers easily knocked out Grand Prairie 70-6, in which they dominated early by practically winning the game in the first half and showed that they could keep a lead.

“We showed that we do have it in us to finish games, that we can be on top,” Dicus said.

Next on the hit list was Midlothian, the Panthers won 51-13, again they lead right from the start and defensively blocked out Midlothian. Their toughest game so far was an intense game against Mansfield, who was previously undefeated.  The Panthers came out on top 41-35, on a last second touchdown. This gave them a boost of confidence heading into the latest game which gave them the 5-5A lead. That game was  crucial to the Panther’s aspiring goals.

“It is a big game, we’ve got playoff potential,” senior quarterback Divan Ealy said prior to the game, “If we beat South Grand Prairie, it’ll be a big step up towards that district title.”

They lived up to his expectations as they defeated the Warriors 43-28. They are now ranked #12 in the area. With this win the Panthers are undefeated and are first in district for the first time in years. The immediate future is very bright for the Panthers. Their next two opponents should offer little resistance and the Panthers should be 6-0 at least up until they face Cedar Hill in the last game of the season. Cedar Hill is always a tough rival to beat, but their recent slip up against Midlothian has left some doubts in the air.

“Our main objective is to continue getting better, take it one step, one game at a time and hopefully we’ll be there at the end where it will come down to a shot at the district championship,” Dicus said.

If the Panthers can continue to play as well as they have been, then there is a decent, and maybe even good, chance that they could finish district undefeated. That is, a 7-0 district record that not many can testify to have lived through before. The Panthers show promise, when playoffs come around, it’ll be time for them to prove some of that promise.