It was a game that represented a lot of the last year’s efforts to get sports restarted at the high school level. Wilson traveled to Jordan to play the Panthers after both teams’ original opponents were shut down this week due to a positive COVID-19 test. In an odd twist, the teams will meet again at Wilson six days later, on Thursday, for their originally scheduled Moore League contest. Both coaches said they weren’t thrilled with their teams’ performances, but that they were thrilled they got the opportunity to play as Wilson won 32-6.
“Obviously we made a lot of mistakes, but we’ve got a lot of young guys learning how to play this game,” said Wilson coach Mark Ziegenhagen. “We’re in our third or fourth week of practice right now, so we’re just going to keep trying and getting better.”
The game was the first during this Spring season for Jordan, who had their first game last week canceled due to low numbers. Panthers coach Tim Wedlow was happy his team got to take the field and to do so in their home stadium, with their cheerleaders, band, and drumline making the atmosphere fun.
“We came out here a little nervous, we’re a young team,” said Wedlow. “But these guys kept fighting, and I’m very proud of them.”
The Panthers opened the game with a five and a half minute drive that came up empty on the scoreboard after a sack by Cole Henderson on fourth down. The Panthers then took the ball back from Wilson on a fumble recovery from Keyshawn Abreu, only to see Wilson get the ball back two plays later on a fumble recovery by Alama Collins. The Panthers took advantage this time as they started on the Jordan 18 yard line, and ended up scoring on a nine-yard end around by receiver Nicholas Timko.
After a Jordan safety on a snap over the quarterback’s head, Wilson struck paydirt again as quarterback Xander McLaurin found Dallas Cooper for a 37-yard touchdown to put the Bruins up 16-0. They tacked on another two after a second Jordan safety, and then made it 20-0 later in the first half after a third Panthers safety. The Panthers went into the two-minute drill and put themselves up 26-0 on a McLaurin to Timko touchdown just before halftime.
Both coaches played their reserves in the second half to make sure everyone got playing time, and the Panthers defense rose to the occasion. Xavier Heard had two tackles for a loss and sophomore Kingston Moa had 2.5 sacks in the game. The Panthers held up Jordan at midfield by stopping a fake punt attempt, and then got on the scoreboard as backup quarterback Jacob Hernandez hit Abreu in the end zone. Both defenses stiffened after that with Wilson holding Jordan at bay and adding on one final score on a 14-yard touchdown run by Leroy Crook, who also had an interception in the game.
Asked what his team can gain from the unique experience of playing a team and then playing them again in six days, Ziegenhagen said he hopes it helps with an attention to detail.
“It’s a chance to eliminate mistakes and eliminate playing for themselves, to play for their teammates,” he said. “We’ve also got a lot of first year guys and guys who’ve never played under the lights, so I think it helps to get them some experience.”
Wilson (2-0, 2-0) will host Jordan (0-1, 0-1) on Thursday evening at 7 p.m.