The Prairie City/Burnt River Panthers claimed their first victory of the season at home Friday, defeating the Huntington/Harper Locomotives 55-24.
The quarterback for the Panthers, sophomore Jayden Winegar, completed eight of 17 passes for 151 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed 104 yards on seven carries and scored two touchdowns.
Panther Declan Zweygardt rushed for 262 yards on 18 carries and scored three touchdowns.
“We were up against a team that we outmanned,” said Panther coach Scott Dean. “I think that affected us. We knew that first half would happen.”
Prairie City led by 41 points at halftime.
The Panther team was fired up from the start, scoring on their first drive with Winegar rushing 20 yards on the play.
Winegar connected with Opie McDaniel to score on the Panthers’ next possession. McDaniel had six carries for 58 yards.
“He ran hard and was tough to bring down two touchdowns,” Dean said.
The Panther defense then halted the Locomotives’ progress, forcing a turnover on downs that included Prairie City tackling in the backfield.
Winegar connected with freshman Doyal Lawrence for a touchdown pass, and Lawrence was there for the conversion point as well. Lawrence made three catches with 94 yards in the game.
Prairie City was up 19-0 going into the second quarter.
Zweygardt made it 25-0 when he battled through the middle from the 4-yard line on fourth down.
Winegar deflected a pass on Huntington/Harper’s next drive to bring up fourth down.
Although an illegal blindside block was called on the Panthers on their next possession, they moved through the setback. After some rushing gains, Winegar connected with Lawrence on a 25-yard pass.
Zweygardt made it 33-0, taking another handoff from Winegar and weaving through the blocks.
The Locomotives scored their first touchdown of the game with 1 minute left in the half, the Panthers leading 49-8.
Nine Prairie City cheerleaders performed an energetic halftime routine, adding to the positive atmosphere.
When the Panthers were up 55-8 in the third, coach Dean opened up the field for all his players to get experience.
“We just wanted to play everybody, get everybody in the ball game, and made sure that everybody would be OK at the end of the game,” Dean said.
For the Panther defense, Winegar had 14 tackles, Austin Catron had 12, Zweygardt had nine, center Jake McHatton had eight and Georgiy Georgiyev had seven.
Dean said his team accomplished a lot in Friday’s game. Next up, the Panthers travel to McKenzie to face the Eagles at 7 p.m. Friday in Finn Rock.
“We’re starting to see some progress in our program, and not just passing — running and defense,” Dean said. “It’s all coming together. It’s just going to be slow.”
Commenting on some of the players, he said Zweygardt is learning to run hard, including running through tackles.
“That’s what we saw today,” Dean said. “I saw several run through tackles.”
McDaniel was also running through tackles.
Dean said McDaniel reminds him of Baltimore Colt fullback Tom Newicki, from back in Dean’s day — “where if he saw you, he wanted to get a piece of you, and we paid the dividends on that.”
“Doyal, as a freshman, he’s going to be an outstanding receiver,” Dean said, adding they have a lot of players performing well.
Dean said it was a “relatively penalty-free effort” and he was pleased with his players’ efforts.
They hope to see their numbers go up next year, he said. They have eight players on their eighth-grade team they hope will move up with the varsity team.
“If we get five more guys, or eight more guys or 10 more guys, that’s what we want to do,” Dean said. “We want to build it and go. They want to see that success. I’d like to see that we just get better and better and better.”
McHatton was ecstatic with his team’s win, commenting that he was pleased with the starters, as well as the guys who are newer to the sport.
“I’m so happy that we finally won a game at home,” he said. “I’m confident we’re going to go to the playoffs. I’m confident in this year.”
Special District 5 is divided into north and south teams.
North teams include Echo, Sherman/Condon, South Wasco and Joseph, and the south teams are Prairie City/Burnt River, Dayville/Monument, Mitchell/Spray/Wheeler and Huntington/Harper.
The top teams from the north and south will compete in the six-man playoffs Oct. 25 and a final game Nov. 1.
“My players are playing hard, my coaches are coaching hard.” Dean said. “We’ve just got to get better one day at a time, every practice, and we’ll see about those playoffs later on. We can’t look to them, we’ve got to play through them.”
Panther offense stats
Declan Zweygardt: 18 carries, 262 yards, 3 TD
Emmanual Stephen: 2 carries, 25 yards
Opie McDaniel: 6 carries, 58 yards, 2 TD; 1 catch, 28 yards, 1 TD
Jayden Winegar: 7 carries, 104 yards, 2 TD; completed 8 of 17 passes, 151 yards, 3 TD
Cole Teel: 3 carries, 16 yards
Doyal Lawrence: 3 catches, 94 yards, 1 TD
Panther defense stats
Austin Catron: 12 tackles
Georgiy Geogiyev: 7 tackles
Zweygardt: 9 tackles
Boe Workman: 4 tackles
Cole Teel: 4 tackles
Winegar: 14 tackles
Jake McHatton: 8 tackles