Several players expressed optimism after Creston/O-M’s 50-20 victory at Chariton Friday, including a commanding 40-7 lead early in the fourth period.
Chariton controlled the ball for 11 plays and the first seven minutes of the game, but fell short of scoring on the drive. All-state linebacker Trevor Frain said the defense regrouped.
“I think with the heat, on the first drive, everybody was sucking wind a little at the start,” Frain said. “We had a little group meeting, and we turned it around and got fired up, and started flying around. We just stepped it up.”
In the third quarter, Chariton senior quarterback Christian Bengston was rolling out to his left, with Frain bearing down on him at full speed. Just as he released the pass, Frain leveled him.
Bengston laid face down, motionless, after the hit. Trainers rushed to his side, and after several minutes he was able to sit up after regaining consciousness. He was taken for medical observation immediately.
Frain describes the play.
“I read my guard,” said the Panther senior. “When my guard pulls, I’m the contain blitzer for the pass rush. I was in a full sprint. My right forehead and shoulder hit right under his chin.”
There was no penalty called on the play.
After playing guard last year, 5-11, 185-pound senior Adam Baker returned to the backfield for his senior season. After 18 carries for a net 159 yards (8.8 per carry), it appears to be a successful switch.
“That was fun,” Baker said. “I love it. The linemen opened the holes, and Trevor got up there and knocked those linebackers out of the way.”
Also toiling on the defensive line on a 95-degree night, Baker got few breaks.
“It was a little tiring,” Baker said, “but you just have to fight through it. We’ve been practicing in it for the past three weeks. You just kind of get used to it.”
Last year, when senior Luke Neitzel suffered a hand injury prior to the final regular-season game, Brandon Phipps was pressed into starting quarterback duty.
Friday was his debut as the clear No. 1 starter behind center, and the senior had a good night. He was 8-for-12 passing for 102 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
“They protected me, my jersey is clean,” Phipps said, referring to the Panther offensive linemen. “I really didn’t get hit that much at all. Baker ran like a man tonight. I love passing, but if we can run the ball like that, it just opens up play-action opportunities.”
The only interception, in the Chariton end zone to end a Panther scoring threat early in the second quarter, actually led to a touchdown play later.
“I threw that pick early on at the goal line when they jumped that slant,” Phipps said. “So me and coach Frain said, we will run that slant-and-go. They’re going to jump it and go over the top of it. We made them pay for it.”
Bryce Briley ran the slant route, then cut upfield and was wide open for a 34-yard scoring play as the Panthers pulled within 7-6. Phipps followed with TD connections to Alex Nielsen and Conner Pals to make it a 19-7 Panther advantage.
“Coach Frain saw the safety flying up, so we ran play action and Pals got wide open with the power flow,” said Phipps, who appeared to be running right, then stopped and fired to an open Pals in the end zone. “We read the end. I either run it, or throw it.”