If nothing else, Mead’s football team is made up of survivors.
And if they survive tonight’s 7:30 game against Gonzaga Prep at Albi Stadium, the Panthers will make a seventh straight trip to the state playoffs, probably in Walla Walla.
“We’re not there yet,” said Adam Morris, who has scored nine touchdowns in Mead’s past two games. “Last week our offense put together a complete game. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to go down there again.”
The Panthers have compiled a 5-1 Greater Spokane League record with a starting lineup’s worth of players sidelined at one time or another by injury, Morris among them.
He separated a shoulder the week of Mead’s second game and only loss. It hasn’t been until the past two weeks that the Panther impact player has been healthy and able to go both ways.
He is now second in scoring and has moved up to sixth on the career receiving list with 931 yards. This year he has 325 yards on 23 catches plus 290 yards rushing. He also has returned a punt for a touchdown.
“This is as healthy as we’ve been,” Coach Mike McLaughlin said of his team at it prepared for tonight’s matchup with the 3-2 Bullpups. “We started the season with five or six players out, were finally healthy the week we played North Central, and lost five more.”
Now most of the team is ready, except for Beau Chandler, who suffered a season-ending injury.
“(Fullback) Larry Carnahan should play. (Receiver) Jarett Robbins is hampered, but he should play. (Quarterback) Jason Lewis should play,” said McLaughlin.
From the beginning of the season, he said that Mead could be a good team not so much because of physical talent but because of character.
It has been proved by the way the players have overcome the loss of so many players at varying times.
“A lot of kids had to step in,” McLaughlin said. “The kids believe it doesn’t matter if someone gets hurt.”
Gonzaga Prep’s speed, both up front and in the backfield, will pose a problem for Mead. Mead’s offensive balance will pose a problem for the Bullpups.
If the Panthers can’t figure a way to neutralize the Bullpup running game, there’s the probability of another multiple tie for second place and end-of-season playoff.
First place on line for Lakeside
As inexperienced as Lakeside High’s football team was, who would have thought it would be playing for first place Friday night in the Northeast A League?
“I can’t figure it out; we’re so young,” said Coach Glen Payne. “Our goal was to make the playoffs, but I guess realistically I didn’t know if we would stumble along the way.”
The Eagles start six sophomores on defense and five on offense, yet they’ve run their NEA record to 4-0 heading into the game at unbeaten Chewelah.
“This is a biggie, and it just scares me to death,” said Payne. “We can’t let them run at will, and I’m very worried about that. Nobody has consistently stopped them.”
The Eagles will try to do just that by throwing the football and kicking them deep.
Despite Lakeside’s youth, Payne built the team around four players: junior quarterback George Petticrew who has thrown six touchdown passes and run two more; speedy junior running back Tai Saito; middle linebacker Randy Brownell, who is averaging 15 to 20 tackles per game; and kicker Ryan Chicoine.
If the team wins at least one of its remaining three games, it will qualify for a second straight State A playoff.
If not, said Payne, “they better get us this year. (After this) it will be awhile.”