Panthers win season opener

Barbara Lawlor, Nederland.  It was the first time as football coach at Nederland High School that Aaron Jones could boast a season opening victory. The Panthers traveled to Elbert County on Friday, Sept. 4 to play the Bulldogs under the lights and came home with an 18-14 win.

The Ned boys had to struggle for the win, but the effort paid off. Neither team entered the end zone in the first quarter. Panther Kenny Shankey put up the first score, running the ball for 6 yards for a Nederland touchdown. The conversion didn’t work. In fact, no conversions worked, which is something that the team has to work on, says coach Jones.

Panther defense shut down the Bulldog’s offense forcing them to punt, but Nederland fumbled on the first play. This looked too familiar to Jones, but the blue and gold stopped the Bulldogs and began a nice run on th elegs of Shakley and Mike  Wood. Jack Abendroth made the first of 8 catches for the game and the boys ate up a ton of clock. With 22 seconds left, on the fourth down, Nederland couldn’t make it into the end zone.

Elbert took the ball and ran with it to tie the game,  6-6. The Panthers drove to the 8 yard line but ran out of time and the boys headed to the lockers.

On the first play of the third quarter, Quin Kuchenmeister returned the kickoff for a 75-yard touchdown as Ned’s defense made the blocks along the corridor to the end zone. But Ned’s joy at the lead was cut short when the Bullodogs scored and added a two-point conversion putting them in the lead.

Nederland once again launched a long drive to the goal in the fourth quarter, with culminated in a 12 yard touchdown pass from Jaylan Rasdall to Jack Abendroth. This put Ned ahead 18-14, but there was still a bunch of game time to go.

Shankey ran 70-yards to the goal which was called back by a foul in the in the backfield. That score would have been the nail in the coffin, says coach Jones, but the pressure was on. The Bulldogs advanced ago the Panther 10-yard line but Ned’s defense held to the end of the game and their first-outing victory.

“We should have won 30-6, “ says coach Jones. “But there were some bad pass interference calls and the Bulldogs are a tough team who played with a lot of heart.”

Scores by quarters: 0-0, 6-6, 6-8, 6-0

Jaylan Rasdall was named the Overall Player of the Game; Quin Kuechenmeister was named Special teams Player of the Game and Michael Wood was named the Defensive Player of the Game.

 The Panthers are now 1-0 and will play West Grand away on Friday, Sept. 11, at 7 p.m. There is special excitement around the match because the West Grand coach is going for his 300th win. Coach Jones says the Panthers will try and make him wait awhile.

Individual statistics:

Michael Wood, senior: 3 completions of 5 attempts for 30 yards, 15 yards long pass; 4 carries for 32 yards, 24 yards long, 8 solo tackles, 5 assists
Jaylan Rasdall, junior: 5 of 10 passes completed for 90 yards, longest was 42 yards, carried 6 times for 40 yards, longest was 21 yards, 3 total tackles, 1 interception
Kenny Shankey, junior: 13 carries for 97 yards, longest was 34 yards for a touchdown, 5 tackle assists, 6 points.
Quin Kuechenmeister, senior: 2 carries for 11 yards, 6 yards longest, 1 touchdown, 1 solo tackle, 1 assist, 2 kickoff returns, one for 75 yards.
Austin O’melia, senior: 7 carries for 50 yards, 34 longest, 8 color tackles, 3 assists, 2 sacks
Jack Abendroth, senior: 8 receptions for 120 yards, 1 touchdown, 5 solo tackles
Bob Allen, junior: 3 solo tackles,
Tucker Carr, senior: 3 solo tackles, 3 assists, 4 kickoffs for 160 yards, 45 the longest
Trig Campbell, junior: 5 solo tackles
JJ Rippy, junior: 1 solo, 1 assist
L. Kasch, senior: 4 solo tackles, 1 assist

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.