The Panthers dominated the team that ousted them last season.
DR. PHILLIPS After a close call against Steinbrenner in the first week of high school football playoffs, the Dr. Phillips Panthers bounced back with a 40-21 rout of the Manatee Hurricanes Nov. 20 at Bill Spoone Stadium.
Head coach Rodney Wells said his Panthers playing a better first half was the biggest difference from the prior game, in which he believed his team felt it could cruise against an opponent it had not known.
But against Manatee, which narrowly beat Dr. Phillips in the 2014 playoffs, a more complete effort produced a rout not even as close as the score, Wells said.
“This week, we played in the first half and the second half,” he said. “That was really the only difference.”
The Osceola Kowboys beat Vero Beach 42-35 to become the Panthers' next opponent. The Kowboys' style is physical, run-heavy and should produce the toughest grind of the year, Wells said.
But he expects his team to have its best week of practice and then match its opponent, which will require a clean game.
“We shot ourselves in the foot with a couple of penalties,” he said. “We had a personal foul … that led to the first touchdown. I don’t think (the Hurricanes) score at all if they don’t get that.”
Tanner Ingle received one such personal foul on defense for a hard hit that set a tone, just as D.J. Charles’ interception return of about 55 yards that earned the only touchdown of the first quarter did.
The next touchdown belonged to eventual game MVP Emare Hogan, who midway into the second quarter burst through a seam in the middle for a 60-yard rush.
Then a long dash by Alvin Bryant set up a short sneak by Marvin Washington for another touchdown to quickly answer the Hurricanes' only scoring play of the first half, a catch-and-run of about 48 yards for Kavious Price. Price scored all three Manatee touchdowns.
On the final play of the first half, Hogan zinged a pass downfield to Caleb Wells, who was wide open and shimmied around one defender to make it 27-7 at halftime.
The rout continued after Amos Louis recovered a Hurricane fumble on the first drive of the third quarter.
Demaria Washington and Kenny Palmer scored the Panthers' last two touchdowns on runs of about five yards, making the score 40-7 less than a minute into the final quarter.
Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].