Alba-Golden puts it all together

Posted 9/9/21

It was the kind of win which coaches dream about, a team win with everyone contributing, with no glaring errors, extreme effort and composure maintained at all times.

That pretty much describes …

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Alba-Golden puts it all together


It was the kind of win which coaches dream about, a team win with everyone contributing, with no glaring errors, extreme effort and composure maintained at all times.

That pretty much describes the Alba-Golden 20-0 win last Friday at Big Sandy.

The Panthers ground out 307 yards from scrimmage while limiting the Wildcats to 108. Therein lies the key to the win. Alba-Golden won the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. 

Offensively, the Panthers had only a handful of negative yardage plays, with a bevy of ball carriers all running with abandon.

On the defensive side, the team played aware, inside-out defense with excellent pursuit and great aggression.

That was not easy. At kickoff the temperature was 91 degrees with very high humidity. At half it had cooled to 84. A hint of a breeze barely moved the air at the hilltop stadium at Big Sandy High.

The Panthers came out firing. They took the opening drive and picked up three quick first downs. A deflected pass from quarterback  Easton Campbell was picked off in the end zone, ending the initial drive. 

The Wildcats generated two first downs on their initial possession of the night. A timely play by Braylon Moffett to break up a long pass play eventually led to forcing a turnover on downs.

An exchange of punts shifted the field position in Alba-Golden’s favor as they took over at the Big Sandy 40-yard line. With Michael Gaskill and Glen Hartley picking up large chunks of yardage, the Panthers moved to the Wildcats 4-yard line. 

The fumble bug bit and the Panthers turned the ball over. Decisive plays by Thai Peterson, Nick Hallman and Eathan Thorn forced a punt, giving the Panthers a second attempt from the Wildcat 40-yard line. 

Seven plays later, Hartley took the ball around the left end into the corner of the end zone to put the Panthers on the board. Micah Smith – who went 2 for 3 on PATs – made it 7-0 with 1:52 remaining in the half.

The half ended with the teams exchanging interceptions. Hallman made a great play on a Big Sandy deep ball, which he returned about 50 yards.

With the ball on the Wildcat’s 32-yard line, Alba-Golden returned the favor when a Wildcat defender made an over-the-shoulder catch on a Panther flag-route to secure an interception. 

Big Sandy had their biggest play of the night early in the third quarter. They found a seam in the middle of the Panthers defense and broke into the secondary carrying the ball down to the Alba-Golden 35. There, the defense clamped down on the Wildcats and forced a punt.

The Panthers then embarked on an 80-yard scoring drive. Hartley, Gaskill, Peterson and Jack Patton ripped off big gains. The drive appeared to stall at the Wildcat’s 10-yard line.

On a fourth-and-10, Campbell calmly found Jerry Skinner on a well-designed stick route for the score. With 7:34 to play, Alba-Golden extended the lead to 14-0

After forcing a quick three-and-out, the Panthers busted their way down field, scoring after an 11-play drive. The Wildcats had had enough. They had faced 71 plays from scrimmage. The Panthers offensive sealed the win with a 14-yard Hartley score around the edge.

With one minute to play, Big Sandy had a chance to get on the board. A determined Panther defense preserved the shutout. 

Not only did the team perform well, but they had a new look. The plays were signaled onto the field, not sent in with runners. The Panthers played with more rhythm and more purpose. It worked.

Tapped to fill-in at quarterback, the poise and execution of Campbell requires special note. At no time did he appear unsettled.

His presence, rather, enhanced the performance of the offense, as he appeared a natural fit at the position. 

Also of note were the defensive performances of Shawn Gaskill, Erin Hubbard and Ethan Salinas. Each of them had big plays and challenged the Wildcats on every down. Gaskill and Salinas recorded timely sacks while Hubbard harassed the Wildcat quarterback all night.

Next on the horizon is a visiting Union Grove squad. Alba-Golden will hope to avenge last year’s close loss. With such a solid effort under their belt, they intend to do just that.