DR. PHILLIPS The Dr. Phillips football team will enter the 2016 season this August with great expectations and one of the most talented classes of rising seniors in the state.
If the third quarter of the Panthers’ spring game against Bishop Moore May 20 is any indication, those great expectations may be warranted.
Led by rising senior quarterback Marvin Washington, Dr. Phillips’ offense exploded for 21 points in the third quarter — the final quarter of varsity play — to earn a 21-16 victory over the 2015 Class 5A State Champions and send the Panthers off into the summer on a high note.
Down 7-0 to start the third quarter, Dr. Phillips had its first complete drive of the game, ending on Washington's 17-yard pass to rising junior Devodney Alford for a touchdown. Sterling Stockwell tied the game with a PAT.
The Hornets’ next play was a 75-yard touchdown run, but on the play after that, rising junior quarterback Keanu Kong chucked a 75-yard touchdown pass to rising senior Emare Hogan, leading to another tie score, 14-14.
The Panthers limited Bishop Moore on the ensuing drive, but the Hornets could not prevent Dr. Phillips from scoring for the third straight possession. With 2:47 to go in the third quarter, Washington used a play fake on second down en route to a 32-yard touchdown rush. In the fourth quarter, Bishop Moore could muster only a safety on the Panthers’ improper punt snap, leaving the score 21-16.
On the night, Washington threw for 111 yards and a touchdown on 14 completions, and he led the Panthers with 83 yards rushing and another touchdown.
The defense produced its best work of the night in the first half, when rising senior defensive end Nick Smith plowed into the opposing quarterback for the Panthers’ first sack late in the first quarter. Rising junior Joe Gulla also earned a sack when he stripped Bishop Moore’s quarterback of the ball in the second quarter.
The defensive line excelled, and the secondary covered well apart from a few plays, but at times Dr. Phillips could not contain Bishop Moore’s playmakers on runs and quick passes that marched the Hornets downfield.
In addition to its defensive mid-game, Dr. Phillips seems to be focusing on improving its passing game, given a focus on pass plays through much of the first half on drives that all stalled.
The Panthers are hoping to eclipse consecutive appearances in regional finals in 2014 and 2015 this fall.
Dr. Phillips begins the regular season at 7 p.m. Aug. 19 at Jones in a Kickoff Classic. The Panthers’ home-opener follows at 7 p.m. Aug. 26 against Wekiva.
Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].