Perhaps one could find some symbolism when Mahanoy Area defeated Panther Valley 51-28 last night in their opening game of the 2013 football season.
Each team wears the black and white of their respective school colors and therein lies the symbolism. For both the Panthers and the Bears, the "gold" found was in their outstanding quarterback play. PV's Kyle Ferryman, who moved up from his running back position of last year, had an incredible performance under center where he accounted for four touchdowns and 272 yards of total offense. Mahanoy's golden player was senior quarterback, Dylan Mahmod who had his hand and feet in scoring five TD's while accumulating a whopping total of 421 yards of offense.
The "black" spot for the Panthers was their inability to stop the Bears all night long. Mahmod ran the midline option to perfection and many of his inside the tackle read-runs went for long gains due to poor tacking by Panther Valley.
"Obviously, Mahmod is a great athlete, but our tackling was awful," said Panther coach Lon Hazlet. " We moved the ball on offense very well all night long, but we couldn't stop virtually anything they did.'
The Bears had a black spot of their own which helped keep Panther Valley in the game as Mahanoy committed 13 penalties on the night.
"We have to be better disciplined," said Bears' coach Dave Holman. "And give Ferryman credit because we had shown a pretty good defense in our scrimmages, but he took advantage of our penalties and led his team on several TD drives."
Panther Valley took an 8-0 lead on their first possession when Ferryman capped a 49 yard- eight play drive with a 21 yard scamper to the goal line. The Bears quickly answered on a seven play drive that ended with Mahmod keeping on the option for a 25 yard touchdown run.
Then it appeared that neither defense could stop the other's offense. Both teams never huddled and never punted in putting up 53 total points by half time.
The third quarter started with a much different feel as the night's humidity caused several injury time-outs due to leg cramping of the players on both sides.
"I think all that stoppage of play affected us," said Hazlet. "We just couldn't seem to get our offensive rhythm back."
Mahanoy broke the game open when Mahmod hooked up with a 65 yard run and pass play with sophomore Mason Evitts at the 1:37 mark of the third quarter. But Ferryman and his Panther "O" wasn't finished as he tried to get his team back in the game at the end of the quarter. Following a shovel pass to Richard Nase that went for 39 yards, Ferryman carried the ball eight out of nine consecutive plays resulting in his 10 yard touchdown run that brought the Panthers to within 11 points with 11 minutes to go in the game.
Needing to take time off the clock and keep the ball out of Ferryman's hands, the Bears began huddling and working the play clock. The plan worked as Mahanoy ran off six minutes in a drive that ended in a three- yard Evitts TD run.
To put more insurance on the scoreboard, fullback, Austin Forte finished the Bears' scoring with a 22 yard run with only three minutes to go.
Coach Hazlet's Panthers will be working on fundamental tackling next week at practice because he knows what he has in his new-found quarterback and his ability to lead his team on several scoring drives.
"We need more 24's (Ferryman's number) on this team. He only weighs about 160 pounds, but his heart weighs at least twice that much. That's another goal for this week, to find more heart in our players, especially on defense."