WEST ALEXANDRIA — Twin Valley South graduated 15 players from their 7-2 team last year, but that didn’t slow the Panthers down one bit, as they routed Dixie 43-0 on Friday, Aug. 28.
“We had a great week of practice and you play like you practice, so I felt pretty good about coming in here. We had some tough scrimmages and things didn’t really go our way. We had a lot to work on but those scrimmages really helped us and prepared us,” said South head coach Tyler Cates. “We saw where our weaknesses were, we moved some guys around, got some guys back from injuries. I’m just so proud with how our guys came out right away, right from the get-go.”
South looked like they may struggle a bit on the offensive end in the early going when they were held to a fourth and long on the Dixie’s 11-yard line. Two penalties before the fourth down snap pushed them back ten more yards before Jacob Bassler connected with J.J. Utz on a 21-yard pass and catch for their first touchdown of the season.
The PAT was no good but the Panthers led 6-0. The score stayed stagnate for the remainder of the quarter.
The floodgates opened in the second quarter however, when South scored two defensive and two offensive touchdowns in the span.
Sammy Shockey started the quarter out with a one-yard touchdown run before Utz took an interception 57 yards to pay-dirt before scooping up a fumble for a 31-yard score. Bassler connected with Utz one last time before the half as well, when he took a pass 71 yards for a score.
The four-touchdown quarter put the Panthers up 33-0 at the half.
“When you have a defense play like that, it is going to open it up for the offense,” said Cates. “Everybody played great on defense.”
After the half, South added a field goal and another one-yard score for good measure, as they played the majority of it on a running clock.
Early predictions on JJ Huddle placed South at 1-9, with their only victory predicted to be against Mississinawa Valley. Cates said he used that material to fuel his team’s desire to prove a point heading into the season
“I remind (my team) of that every day,” he said. “The seniors, they don’t like that. We used that as motivation. We want to keep playing the underdog because a lot of people don’t believe in us right now and we’re going to try and send that message.”
Bassler finished the game going 3-3 for 105 yards and two touchdowns. He also had five rushes for 17 yards.
Shockey led all rushers with 148 yards on 21 carries and one touchdown. Chad Ehler also added 43 yards on 10 attempts and a score as well.
Utz had two receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns as well.
South is scheduled to travel to Preble Shawnee on Friday, Sept. 4. The Arrows are coming off a 55-6 win against National Trail.
Jeremy Erskine may be reached at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @jerskine_RH.