Panthers dominate playoff opener

By STEPHEN GLOVER

For the Call

After a 34-7 thumping of FoxiHigh in the first round of the district playoffs, the Mehlville Senior High football team’s magic number is now two.

That’s how many more wins the Panthers need to advance out of districts and into the state playoffs.

“Our defense played a good game,” Mehlville head coach Gary Heyde said of Friday’s win. “Foxiruns an unbalanced Power-Iiand an unbalanced bunch formation, so we had to make some adjustments during the game.”

Mehlville took a 7-0 lead as quarterback Ronald Roberts tossed a 23-yard pass to senior running back Tommy Gayfield with 3:25 left in the first quarter. Roberts finished the first half of play 5-12 for 62 yards and one touchdown before leaving the game with minor aches and pains. He’ll be ready for the next two district playoff games, Heyde said.

“It (the touchdown) was a rollout pass and Tommy was back as the backside receiver,” Heyde said. “Tommy was open and Ronald made a nice pass.”

The Panther’s Rodney Heard scored on a 26-yard touchdown run with 9:29 left in the first half of action. The senior running back carried the ball sixitimes for 52 yards and one touchdown.

“We scored on what was a counter trap,” Heyde said. “It was a nice run with some good blocking. He’s been making some nice plays these last couple of games.”

Roberts added to Mehlville’s lead with 1:46 left in the second quarter, scoring on a one-yard quarterback draw to give the Panthers a commanding 21-0 lead.

“It was a quarterback sneak,” Heyde said. “We had driven it down the field and Ron-ald punched it in.”

Mehlville extended its lead to 28-0 as junior fullback Jeremy Doss exploded for a 50-yard touchdown with 1:49 left in the third quarter. Doss carried the ball 10 times for 138 yards. Doss leads the Panthers this season with 692 yards rushing.

“Jeremy’s basically a tailback playing fullback,” Heyde said. “A lot of the fullback plays have been popping for us.”

Gayfield scored again for the Panthers midway through the fourth quarter on a six-yard pass from senior quarterback Jake Morgan, who replaced Roberts. Morgan ended 5-6 for 51 yards and one touchdown.

“Jake came in during the second half to fill in for Ronald,” Heyde said. “He did a really good job for us.”

Mehlville travels to Oakville Friday for a 7 p.m. district battle with the rival Tigers. The game means more than just a possible district championship — it’s bragging rights between the two sister schools.

“They (Oakville) are going to be fired up,” Heyde said. “At this time of the year, if you have a bad night, it could all be over with.”

The Tigers have struggled throughout the season with a record of 1-7 and are coming off a disappointing 28-21 loss to North-west.

On the rivalry, Tiger head coach Steve Fanara said, “When it comes to this game, it doesn’t take much to figure out what the intensityiof the game will be. We’ve got to get our heads up and get after it this week. Our kids will be ready to play and they’ll be wanting to prove to people that we’re better than our record shows.”