Pine Prairie Panther defensive end Laine Elliott pursues a ball carrier in their District 5-3A contest with Mamou. (Gazette photo by Yvette Jagneaux)
Pine Prairie travels to Iota with first win on their minds
It has been a tough season for Pine Prairie, but one indelible fact remains: the Panthers are a resilient team.
Pine Prairie (0-5, 0-2) will take that resiliency and try to turn it into a win tomorrow night when they travel to Iota for a date with the 2-3 Bulldogs. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
“It has been so weird for us this season,” stated Pine Prairie head coach Richard Clark. “I think because we are still so young that we have trouble self-motivating and that has shown at the beginning of every football game. It is like we don’t get into gear until the latter parts of the game. I really think if we could play a complete game, things would be different for us.”
Offensively, the Panthers have been somewhat successful running the football. In their five games played, Pine Prairie has average right at 100 yards per game on the ground.
However, this past week, the Panthers brought back a part of the game that had been missing for a few weeks, the passing game. Against Mamou, Pine Prairie picked up 194 yards through the air, just four yards shy of what they accomplished against Montgomery in week two of the season.
“Really, I am a coach that loves to run the football,” said Clark. “But, if we can get some balance to the offense by throwing the ball more, then that is what we have to do. Our most balanced game was against Montgomery where we ran and threw for almost the same amount of yards. We are going to take what the defense gives us, but if we can, we will throw the ball more.”
Defensively, Pine Prairie has actually improved over the course of the season. For a team that surrendered 108 points in their first two games, the Panthers have quelled their opponents’ ability to put points on the board in the last three games played.
“The defense is getting better and better each game,” commented Clark. “Last week against Mamou, I thought we did a good job of creating more negative plays. Definitely the points allowed each game has gone down. Now, it’s about getting our offense and defense to become complimentary of each other. We have a lot of players going both ways. So each side of the ball feeds off of the other side of the ball.”
The Panthers will have to deal with a team in Iota that has the balance they seek. The Bulldogs have rushed for 894 yards on the ground, with the biggest beneficiary being Dawson Wallace who has 333 yards on 46 carries. Iota has also thrown for 865 yards.
“It seems that most of the offenses in high school and college have gone to the same spread system,” said Clark. “Most of what we have practiced for this week was the same stuff we prepared for last week. We just have to make sure we come out prepared to play.”