WEST ALEXANDRIA — The traveling Panther trophy, which goes to the winner of the Tri-County North-Twin Valley South football game, is heading back to Lewisburg.
North rushed for over 300 yards and quarterback Brian Stinson had a career night as the visitors cruised to a 39-6 win over South on Friday, Sept. 8, in a Cross County Conference game.
The win was the eighth straight for North in the series.
“I’m just really proud of the guys. We’ve had a really good two weeks of practice We strapped it up and went to work. They’re starting to trust the system. They’re starting to come through. It was a really good night for the (North) Panthers,” first-year North coach Eric Wright said.
Stinson rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 149 more yards and two additional scores.
“He had his kind of coming out party tonight,” Wright said of Stinson. “He’s been struggling to see receivers open. The game has been too fast for him. We really focused on, in practice, slowing the game down for him and tonight it slowed down for him a little bit. I’m glad he was able to connect on some passes and get his confidence. Once he gets his confidence, he’s a good enough athlete to take off.”
Junior running back Josh Heindl rushed for 74 yards and a score.
“He’s just going to be bruiser in between the tackles. I wish I could give the kid 40 carries a game, but I want to keep him healthy for 10 games,” Wright said.
Heindl got the scoring started with a 4-yard touchdown run with 24.8 seconds left in the fist quarter.
After a Twin Valley South punt, North drove 63 yards, which was capped off with a 1-yard touchdown run by Tristen Hayslett with 8:31 left in the half to give North a 12-0 lead.
After another South drive stalled, North went to work again.
Hinson connected with little brother Dylan Stinson for a 31-yard touchdown pass. After a successful point after North led 20-0 with 6:15 left in the half.
South answered on its next possession driving 60 yards for its only score of the game.
Isaac Clark scored on a 5-yard run, on a fourth down play, with 1:53 to left in the second quarter to make it 20-6.
North, though, added one more score just before the half on a 75-yard pass from Brian Stinson to Mason Dreischarf for a 26-6 lead.
Brain Hinson opened the second half with a 20-yard TD run, after nearly being sacked in the backfield, with 8:01 to play in the third. He closed out the scoring with a 5-yard run with 7:18 left in the game.
Ryan Bassler lead South with 99 yards rushing on 15 carries.
Wright said he was pleased with his teams defense.
“I’m really impressed with our defense. We bend but don’t break. We get them down in the red zone, we force turnover,” Wright said. “I think defensively we’re coming along. We’re very physical. I couldn’t be more proud of Coach (Clint) Baughman and the rest of the coaching staff.”
For South, they have dropped three straight to open the season.
“It’s a heart breaker to lose a game like this,” South coach Clint Bartlett said. “Coach Wright has a heck of a ball club. They’re a group of really classy young men and they played a great football game tonight. Our kids are still fighting. I’m proud of them. They were battling all the way up to the last whistle. This game is a big rivalry for these two communities. It’s been a big rivalry for years. The kids seem to get a little more juiced up for a game like this. We’re going to have to continue to get better and go back to work.”
Wright said despite the lopsided score and recent results in the series, the game has the feel of a major college rivalry.
“It’s kind of like Michigan versus Ohio State. It’s always been special,” he said. “I think it really took off back in ‘99. South went to the regional finals and went 9-1 (in the regular season) and we were the one (to beat them). It kind of rejuvenated the North-South rivalry. But really, ever since the Twin Valley North split its always been there.”
North (2-1, 2-0 CCC) is scheduled to host Covington on Friday, Sept. 15. They will celebrate 50 years of football during a pre-game ceremony.
South (0-3, 0-1) will travel to National Trail (1-2, 1-1), also on Friday.
Kick off for both game is set for 7:30 p.m.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH