WALSENBURG — The John Mall Panthers won their fourth league encounter of the season last Friday, defeating the Delores Bears 32-10 in front of an enthusiastic hometown crowd. At Friday’s game, turnovers and penalties were the Panthers’ worst enemy. After halting the Bears on their opening drive, the Panthers marched down the field only to stop their own first drive by fumbling the ball away deep inside the red zone. The Bears’ next drive ended on a 4th and 8 at their own 10 yard line. A high snap from center sailed over the head of the punter and out of the end zone, resulting in a Panther safety. Receiving the kickoff at the Bear 45 yard line, Evan Gonzales ran for 20 yards, followed by a Santos Reyna 10 yard run, capped off by a Destry Crockett to Tanner Ragan strike. The 2 point conversion was good, and the Panthers led 10-0. Delores’ got on the board late in the first quarter, following a Josh McCoy 72-yard kickoff return. The Panthers denied the Bears a TD, but allowed them inside the 10 yard line to post a field goal. A Crockett score on a quarterback keeper and a 13 yard Crockett to Devon Vallejos TD strike gave the Panthers a 25-3 lead at halftime. During a defensive second half battle, each team added an additional touchdown. Delores’ McCoy tallied a touchdown while Jason Murphy of JMHS completed a five yard touchdown run. In their march to victory, the Panthers amassed 384 total offensive yards and an additional 104 yards in returns, making this their second best offensive output of the season. On the evening, quarterback Crockett was 4 of 5 in passing
for 34 yards. His rating of 136.7 was one of his best performances of the season. The 343 yards earned on the ground came off the legs of ten Panthers. Gonzales, the Panthers’ usual workhorse, was contained to only 90 yards in eight carries. His average 11.3 yards per carry was the Panthers’ best for the game, but the surprise of the night came from an unexpected running back, Reyna, who rushed for 111 yards on 15 carries. His longest run was 31 yards, making his performance his first 100+yard rushing game of the season. John Mall turned the ball over twice in the game. The defense forced three turnovers of their own and blocked one punt. Congratulations to Andrew Vigil who was named by coaches the over-all Max Preps Player of the Game, Reyna who was the offensive player, Crockett, the defensive player, and Jeremiah Vigil for special teams. The victory sets up a potential league championship match tomorrow night at home against the fifth ranked Monte Vista Pirates. The Pirates are also 2-0 in league play, as is Centauri. These three teams will face one another as the season winds down. Monte Vista holds the better over-all record at 5-1, while the Panthers are 4-2 and Centauri is 3-3. The Pirates average 200 yards a game on the ground, mostly off the feet of Michael Valdez and Presley Garcia. The Panther defense will need speed to stop Valdez and Garcia and continue to bring their game on Friday night. They will also need to play smarter and not commit needless errors. If they can keep the yellow flags in the referees’ back pockets and hold on to the ball, they could avenge the 59-6 thrashing they suffered last season. A victory would set the stage for the following Friday when the Panthers play Centauri at the Adams State University campus, in game televised on KSPK-TV.