After big win, Panthers hit the road

By CAMAL PETRO,

HEIDELBERG – The Lumberton Panthers are coming off a huge win over a 4A program, but they don’t have time to rest on their laurels. The Panthers (2-0) travel to Heidelberg this week, a team that beat 5A Wingfield on the road in Week 1 and nearly pulled off a win at Southeast Lauderdale last week.

“It’s a ballgame that is going to let us know where we are to get to where we want to be, but it’s also a ballgame that we want to win,” Lumberton coach Zach Jones said. “We’re not just going to play to see where we are. We want to win the football game. We need a good week of preparation, and the weather is probably going to play a factor, but we can’t worry about that. We just have to take care of us.”

Lumberton’s win over Bay High last week was huge. Not only did it get the win, but it beat the Tigers by 20 points. Senior running back Rodriqus Coleman made his return to the field, and he rushed for 102 yards on 15 carries and a score.

There were three other backs, including junior quarterback Jared Tribett, who received carries, and the Panthers totaled 209 yards on 37 rushing attempts. Jones said his team didn’t run the ball that well in the first, so he and the coaches challenged the offensive line in the locker room at halftime. 

“I thought he ran the ball hard in the second half,” Jones said. “I think our offensive line got challenged at halftime, because we did not run the ball well in the first half. In the second half, we picked it up. We’re trying to get our guys to understand that we have so many guys who we’re trying to get touches, it may be a different guy every week.”

It might be a tough week for the Lumberton running backs this week, because Jones thinks the Oilers’ linebackers are really good.

“Defensively, their linebackers stick out to me more than anything,” Jones said. “They fly downhill, and their run fits are really good. It’s a big challenge for us, and we know that.”

Tribett threw 20 passes last week against Bay High, and Jones says 19 of those passes were good decisions. However, Tribett finished the night with 157 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions on 10-of-20 passing. Jones said one of his two interceptions was a misread, while the other could have been prevented. Drops by receivers were an issue, too.

Through two games, Tribett is 19-of-40 for 221 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

“We’re putting a little more on him, and that’s because he’s a little older and more mature. I think he’s handling it well so far,” Jones said.

According to Jones, Heidelberg’s quarterback can run the ball well, adding he’s “a load to tackle.” The quarterback, however, isn’t just a one-trick pony either.

“When they decide to throw it, they have two really good receivers,” Jones said. “We’re going to have our hands full covering them. They’re explosive, they can hit a big play at anytime and we have to try to limit those.”

The Lumberton defense has been playing well through the first two games, though. Senior linebacker Ahmad Dalton has already racked up 17 tackles, 1.5 for a loss and two pass deflections, junior Davion Edwards also has 17 tackles and a fumble recovery and senior Dakota Walters has 16 tackles, four for a loss and a forced fumble.

“They’re really big,” Jones said. “We have Davion and Dakota in the middle, as middle linebacker and nose guard, and they kind of set the tone for us. We send Ahmad to one side and say, ‘That’s yours, bud. You have to shut it down.’ He’s done that for us going on his third year now. I hate to say, but we kind of expect it from him. He’s probably the hardest hitter on the team, and he’s taken over the leadership role of the team.”

Jones also wanted to commend sophomore cornerback Jason Buckley, who has 11 tackles and two pass deflections. Jones said he’s gotten better each week so far this season.