Photo: Glencoe High’s Tyler Palomares (left) pursues Southside’s Gavin Griffin during the Panthers’ 56-0 win last Friday (Nov. 3). (Gary Wells)
By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Southside High ended its season on a positive note last Friday (Nov. 3), as the Panthers blanked cross-county rival Glencoe, 56-0.
The Panthers outgained the Yellow Jackets 282 to 33.
Southside head coach Ron Daugherty said he was happy for his senior class to go out with a win, and told them before the game that he was proud of the way they battled throughout the year.
“It’s just huge, and I told them before the game that they’ve had plenty of chances to quit this year and you didn’t. “They battled and fought even when it didn’t go their way, and I told them that it would pay off in this game and then it would pay off in life, so I hope the latter happens, too.”
It took the Panther offense a few series to find a rhythm, but the Southside defense set up the offense with solid field position by forcing three straight punts to start the game.
On the first play of Southside’s third drive of the evening, quarterback Gavin Griffin connected with receiver Tristan Riggan on a 63-yard touchdown strike to give the Panthers a 7-0 with 1:50 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Panther defense forced a fumble on Glencoe’s next drive, and Nick Shirley recovered the fumble on the Glencoe 8-yard line. Three plays later, senior running back Beau McConnell scored from two yards out to extend the lead to 14-0 with 11:11 left in the second quarter.
The onslaught continued as the Yellow Jackets didn’t record a first down for the remainder of the half. Southside (4-6) scored its third touchdown of the night on a 22-yard pass from Griffin to tight end Gavin Orr, and Nolan Johnson’s extra point made the score 21-0 with 5:54 left until halftime.
After forcing another punt, Southside closed out the first half with a 10-play, 57-yard drive. McConnell and fellow running back Kenneth Bothwell helped move the offense down the field before Griffin hit Riggan for a three-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 28-0 with 47 seconds left before the break.
The Panthers received the ball to start the second half, and Bothwell kept the scoreboard operator busy as he darted down the middle of the field for an 85-yard touchdown on the kickoff return. Southside led 35-0 just 13 seconds into the third quarter.
Glencoe (2-8) decided to go to the air in the second half, but the Southside defense was ready as the Panthers intercepted passes on three consecutive drives.
Logan McGee picked off the first of the three to set up the Panther offense on the Glencoe. Bothwell scored on the next play and Southside led 42-0 with 11:05 left in the third quarter.
On the very next play, defensive back Grant Poole intercepted a pass on the 46-yard line. Southside marched back down the field, and Griffin connected with senior offensive lineman Tyler Farris for a six-yard score to extend the lead to 49-0 with 7:45 remaining in the third quarter.
The Southside sideline erupted when Farris ran in for the score, and Daugherty explained that they had practiced the trick play and was happy they were able to run it.
“Everybody calls (Farris) ‘Spanky,’ said Daugherty. “(Farris is) a kid who battles and battles and battles. This game’s really the first game he’s ever really been on the field. We started him at guard, and he played and played.
“We put in the ‘Spanky Special,’ and I kept saying, ‘Look, there’s not guaranteed to be a time we can do it,’ but we got lucky and got a time to do it, so I’m so happy to do that for him to get him in there. And the kids went crazy.”
Southside defensive back Blake Habyan intercepted a pass on Glencoe’s ensuing drive, and the Panther offense went back to the ground game. McConnell had two long runs before scoring from six yards out for the final touchdown of the night, and the Panthers led 56-0 heading into the final quarter.
While the Panthers didn’t qualify for the postseason, they did win three of their last four games.
Daugherty said he felt like his team was only a few plays away from being a playoff team.
“It just didn’t go our way (this year),” Daugherty said. “We felt like we were two or three plays away from being No. 2 in our region. Not taking anything away from those teams. They beat us and we made mistakes and they took advantage of them. But I couldn’t think of a better way for them to finish if we’re not going to the playoffs.”
Griffin was efficient through the air as he finished 7-11 in passing for 114 yards and four touchdowns. Riggan caught two passes for 66 yards and two scores, and Orr caught one pass for 22 yards and a touchdown. Farris caught the first pass of his career, and it went for a six-yard touchdown.
McConnell led the Panthers on the ground with 10 carries for 89 yards and two touchdowns. Bothwell carried the ball 12 times for 75 yards and a score and had the 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Glencoe running back Cade Alred led his team with 14 carries for 33 yards.