The Stettler Panthers football team is gearing up to head into playoffs, and with an almost perfect season in progress, are likely going into finals in a strong second-place position.
The 24-0 shut-out against the Rocky Mountain Rebels didn’t hurt any. The team’s record going into Saturday’s game against the Rebels was three wins and one loss. Coming back from their first defeat – indeed, the first game where another team had scored a point against them – the Panthers had to gather their wits and return to the field ready to win.
“It was a really good game,” head coach Berri Shirley said. “We started out slow in the first half but the team pulled it together and came back for the second.”
The first half was a defensive battle as the Panthers struggled to keep the Rebels’ aggressive offence from breaking through to score.
“It looked like the Rebels were going to be the first to score, but their touchdown was called back (with a flag on the field),” Laurie Myshaniuk, a parent who watched the game recalled afterwards.
Both teams kept the first half scoreless until, with less than a minute remaining in the second quarter, Brett Mercier pushed through the Rebels’ defence to score a touchdown.
Liam McQuay wasn’t about to let his teammate score the only points on the board, and quickly brought the ball in from the outside corner to bring the Panthers to 12-0, Myshaniuk said.
Mercier brought in another touchdown in the second half, and teammates Kurt Heidecker, Josh Morris and Black O’Connor battered the Rebels’ defensive line to give the Panthers’ offence every opportunity to score.
“Carson Mottus made two sacks in a row against and made a crowd pleasing diving tackle that would have otherwise resulted in a touchdown for the Rebels,” said Myshaniuk.
The Panthers now have a bye week and will face the boys from Cochrane the week after.