Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Saturday, September 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night 49° Clear


Panthers come all the way back

Three weeks into the season the Mead Panthers were 1-2 and facing an uphill GSL football slog. They ran the table and with Thursday's convincing 31-12 win over Central Valley are No. 1 among 4A teams. They proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that defense more than offense wins games, stifling the Bears in all facets except the kicking game. But they showed their offensive versatilty with a big passing night from sophomore Andy Wetzel and huge receiving night by Mitch Kayser whose early layout catch set the tone against CV's suspect secondary, just as they ran their way to victory the week before.

With the triumph, and anticipating Mt. Spokane's win over Rogers Friday, it's a one-two finish for the Mead district (in volleyball and soccer as well, (the Wildcats and Panthers tied in the latter) in league. Mt. Spokane won two out of three head-to-head tests winning in football and soccer this year and the volleyball team tested Mead in their league match.

Should be a big crowd at Albi when the two host a doubleheader 4A-3A state play-in doubleheader next Friday. 

Here's the post of my story for tomorrow's Spokesman-Review:

Two stout defenses clashed for a half, limiting yardage opportunities for both on the ground. But the Mead Panthers had their way through the air in defeating Central Valley 31-12 for their sixth straight Greater Spokane League football victory and top seed to next week’s state play-in series.

Triumph Thursday night at Joe Albi Stadium means the Panthers (7-2, 7-2) and district rival Mt. Spokane, top 3A seed and outright champion with a Friday win will play a doubleheader at Albi on next Friday.

The Panthers limited CV to 16 plays and a net 23 first half yards while building a 17-6 lead. But it came at a cost as first Wes Bailey, complaining of tingling in his fingers was taken off the field on a stretcher, and linebacker Spencer Deniston a handful of plays later followed after injuring his back second quarter. He would later return.

The Bears (6-3, 6-2) only had a net yard rushing in the opening half. Mead didn’t move the ball much better on the ground, but sophomore quarterback Andy Wetzel aired it out and found his receivers for the most part wide open for big chunks of yards, 155 yards total on 8 completions and two touchdowns, including a 54 yarder on a bubble screen to Bo Tully the second play of the second period.

CV parlayed a 69-yard kickoff return into a TD six hard-earned plays later, but the Bears later fumbled, then added two costly penalties as Mead kicked a field goal before intermission.

Wetzel passed for two more scores in the second half, but this time the Panthers were able to “Pounder” it on the ground considerably more to control the clock. The only other CV score came on an 84-kickoff return.

Mead fullback Max Pounder rushed for all but one of his 84 yards in the second half and receiver Mitch Kayser accounted for 113 of Wetzel’s 212 passing yards on six receptions including the game’s final touchdown.

“Their defensive backs played outside and we were able to get inside quickly with slants and digs,” said the senior wideout.

Mead coaches said that because of their run-first style, teams had been stacking defenses which opened up the passing game.

“We’ve been having a lot of success with the run,” said head coach Sean Carty, “so we figured they’d try and stop it and we could pass.”

Three weeks into the GSL season Mead was 1-2, losing 7-0 to Mt. Spokane in the season opener and facing an uphill battle. Today they are playoff bound.

“You know in this league crazy things happen and you’re always hoping,” Carty said of Mead’s drive to the finish. “We’re tough on each other and as long as you believe and keep hanging in, then you have a chance.”

Loss keeps Central Valley waiting until tonight’s outcomes between Gonzaga Prep-Lewis and Clark and Ferris-Mead to determine their playoff fate.

Shadle Park 34, North Central 14: There are no winless teams this year in the GSL. Taking advantage of four NC turnovers in the first 5 ½ minutes, the Highlanders (1-8, 1-7) took out a season’s worth of frustration with their victory over the Indians (1-7, 1-7). Shadle led 14-0 after a quarter and Danny Rowton scored the first of two second-half touchdowns with a 28-yard run in the third quarter. Rowton rushed for 147 yards on 10 carries, the Highlanders with 316 ground yards in the game.


You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus
« Back to SportsLink

SportsLink is your portal into sports news around the Inland Northwest and beyond. You'll find updates, notes and opinions, and plenty of reader feedback.

Looking for a Grip on Sports?

Vince Grippi's daily take on all things regional sports has been moved to our main sports section online. You can find a collection of these columns here.