ORLANDO The month of September, which saw the Dr. Phillips Panthers go 1-3 while playing one of the toughest schedules in the state, couldn't seem farther away.
In a Thursday night contest against nearby rival Olympia, the Panthers (5-3, 3-0 in 8A-5) were utterly dominant in securing a 41-10 victory. Dr. Phillips is now 3-0 in the month of October — with all three victories coming in district contests — and the Panthers have outscored opponents by an average of 33.3 points this month.
The win marked the 31st consecutive district victory for Dr. Phillips — and an eighth consecutive district championship for the Panthers, who will once again be hosting a first round playoff game in November.
“The reason we took them through the gauntlet, the reason we took them through that schedule, is so we could find out what our weaknesses and our strengths are," head coach Rodney Wells said. "We knew we had to grow when we lose 36 seniors. … These guys are getting better and better every week."
The Panthers got multi-touchdown efforts from both Alvin Bryant Jr. — who scored on runs of 52 and 24 yards — and Marvin Washington. Dr. Phillips even got a defensive touchdown scored on an interception by Chance Bush.
Olympia (5-3, 2-1 in 8A-5) scored on a field goal by Jonathan Messina and a late touchdown pass from Joe Milton to Jeff James.
The game saw a significant number of penalties by both sides and had a chippy feel as might be expected from two rival programs playing a contest with heavy district implications. The night is believed to have gotten off to a rocky start well before kickoff, as there was reportedly an exchange between the teams during warmups.
Afterward, Wells praised his team for staying focused and not allowing the emotions of the contest to run too high or too low.
“It’s been respectful since I’ve been here, for 13 years, with Olympia — me and (former Titans coach) Bob Head had a great relationship," Wells said. "Lately, it’s been a little disrespectful. … That’s why the emotions were going a little bit. (Our players) handled it very well."
Dr. Phillips finishes its district slate with Cypress Creek, a game it will be heavily favored for, and the Titans will have to face Oak Ridge in a win-and-your-in battle for district runner-up and the playoff spot that comes with it.