How does a football team respond a week after a deflating loss?
How about eight touchdowns in the first half, four in the game’s first 9 minutes. That’s how the Mead Panthers bounced back from their mistake-ridden loss to Gonzaga Prep.
The Panthers, who dropped from second to seventh in the 4A state rankings this week, ran roughshod over Shadle Park, zipping to a 37-0 lead before settling for a 57-13 victory in a Greater Spokane League game Friday at Joe Albi Stadium.
“All credit to the victor last week for sure,” Mead coach Sean Carty said of his team’s 33-27 loss to Gonzaga Prep. “But we felt like we stabbed ourselves every once in a while. We just can’t play like that so we wanted to play mistake-free. It’s a little bit better.”
Junior running back Luke Hilmes, who stepped in last week when senior starter Davian Barlow suffered a high ankle sprain, recorded his second 100-yard game in as many weeks. He had a game-high 121 yards on 11 carries to go with three touchdowns.
“I was (ticked),” Hilmes said of the loss to G-Prep. “I don’t want another loss. We’re not going to lose again.”
The Albi scoreboard got a much-needed repair this week, and the Panthers gave it a workout – especially early.
A.J. Layton returned an interception 55 yards for a TD to go with a rushing score and Austin Stone added two rushing TDs.
Mead built a 37-0 lead midway through the second quarter. By halftime, the Panthers (5-1) led 51-7. That meant a running clock the entire second half.
“In order for us to go as far as we want to go we just have to keep making fewer and fewer mistakes,” Carty said. “Everybody needs a little shake-up.”
Shadle Park sophomore Brett Rypien moved to No. 10 in the all-time single-season passing list. He completed 18 of 34 for 196 yards. He needed 106 going into the game, and he’ll continue to climb the list with three weeks left in the regular season. He needs 118 to move past his uncle, Mark Rypien (1,975), who is fourth.
Hilmes shared the credit for his success.
“The key is the linemen,” he said. “I don’t really do anything. I could just walk through the line. It’s all the linemen.”
Hilmes said Mead needed to have a fast start.
“We needed to assert our dominance,” Hilmes said.