Denouement for Panthers after perfect regular slate
November 27, 2020
After going undefeated during the regular season, the South Ridge Panthers looked forward to playing for a section crown in nine-man football. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the state order shutting down prep sports for a month, the Panthers were forced to find an opponent outside the section for their final game.
That put them on the field against Win-E-Mac, a perennial state power in nine-man football. Win-E-Mac won easily, 50-0, but the experience was a good one for South Ridge nonetheless.
"It was a good experience to play a team like Win-E-Mac just to get the kids one last game in, especially the seniors," said Panthers coach Brent Johnson.
The game took place because both teams had openings at playoff time due to the pandemic. South Ridge received a bye in the Section 5 nine-man playoffs when McGregor couldn't field a team. The Panthers were waiting to play the winner of Wednesday's Cromwell/ Hill City game but the shutdown meant the Panthers would not have another game and the season would be over.
"Our athletic director, Tony DeLeon, started looking for opponents who also had an opening and Win-E-Mac said they were open so we said we'd go and play them," Johnson said.
The Patriots play a different style of football than most of the teams in the northeastern part of the state. For the most part, they played with nobody in the backfield and they tossed the ball all over the field, relying on fast and athletic receivers.
"We just didn't have the depth of talent to stay with their receivers, and that made it tough," Johnson said.
Despite the loss, the Panthers finished with an impressive 6-1 record and handled every team they played pretty handily.
"We would have liked for us to end the season playing for the section title," Johnson said. "The kids worked hard all season for that and to get to that point is quite an accomplishment."
As the crazy season came to an end, Johnson was extremely happy with this year's crew.
"I am very proud and pleased with the way we played throughout the season," Johnson said. "I was especially happy with the seniors. Each and everyone of them contributed to the team's success this year. They will truly be missed."