The Mead football team was slowed down by the smoke that wafted through the region Friday.
Air quality was the only thing that could slow down the Panthers as they put a 41-7 licking of the Lewis and Clark Tigers in a Greater Spokane League football game at Joe Albi Stadium.
“We had a lot of guys playing both ways in that smoke and the heat got to us early,” Mead coach Sean Carty said. “We were battling. They’re a good team and they made it tough on us early.”
The key word there would be early. Mead had just an 8-0 lead after one quarter. By halftime, though, the Panthers (3-0) were on the way to the decisive victory.
“It’s been one of those weeks where we needed a couple more guys to get some reps,” Carty said. “We’ve got a lot of guys hurt. Our kids had to battle for four quarters. We’d like to get them more rest.”
The offense had plenty of standouts for Mead, but it was the defense that stepped up and stifled the Tigers (1-3). Cornerback Darian Barlow had two interceptions.
“Our defense played really well,” Carty said. “I was proud of them for sticking with it.”
While Darian Barlow was leading the defense, his twin brother, Davian, was piling up the yards on the ground. He scored two touchdowns and went over the 200-yard mark for a second consecutive week, finishing with 204 on 19 attempts.
“The defense brought our intensity way up,” Davian Barlow said. “The defense took over the game for us.”
Mead put on a clinic in the first half. The Panthers churned out 264 yards total offense, 226 on the ground. Barlow accounted for 144 on 13 carries.
LC couldn’t sustain any possessions.
Mead scored three touchdowns in the first half and completed 2-point conversions each time.
The Panthers took the opening kickoff and drove 11 plays and 84 yards. Quarterback Gunnar Kayser hit Luke Hilmes on a 9-yard TD pass.
“We’re getting better but we’ve got to get better in certain areas,” Carty said.
Davian Barlow said he especially felt the smoke in the third quarter.
“It bothered me. As you saw, I was out most of the beginning of the third quarter,” he said. “I was pretty loopy and out of it. Coach didn’t want to put me in but I drank a lot of water and some Gatorade and I went out there and did my thing.”
Speaking of doing their thing, the Panthers seem to be getting better each week.
“There’s always something we can get better at,” Barlow said. “We’re not the best team, we know that. When we come out here and play, we play.”