Panthers roll in opener
BARNSDALL — This is the kind of déjà vu that Stephen Mitchell would rather see end.
A year ago, the Barnsdall High School Panthers defeated Mitchell’s Caney Valley High School football team, 50-14.
On Friday night, the Panthers won again — by the same exact score, 50-14 — in the season opener.
Not only that, but in both the 2017 and 2018 games, Barnsdall led at halftime, 43-0.
Of course, Barnsdall head coach Kylee Sweeney could hardly be happier — the Panthers are now 3-0 in season openers during his tenure.
“Overall, it was a pretty good night,” Sweeney said about Friday’s fray — which also featured National Guard Night — in Barnsdall. “Overall, I was pretty pleased with last night’s performance.”
Joe Cole made a solid debut as Barnsdall’s new starting quarterback — although the Panthers didn’t exactly go deep into the passing playbook.
Cole attempted a limited number of passes — but one of them was good for touchdown by Heath Moles, playing in his first game since 2016.
Christian Warford — who also missed last season — made a quiet impact.
Kind of like the quiet impact of an 8.7 Richter scale earthquake.
He returned two punts for touchdowns — going 75 yards and 35 yards — in the first half.
Moles also found paydirt twice — once on the touchdown pass from Cole and the other on a 30-yard interception return. Moles picked off three passes in the game.
Cole rushed for more than 100 yards and two rushing scores.
“He had 140 all-purpose yards,” noted Sweeney.
It could have been much more, if not for two dropped passes, one that would have been a deep competition, and the other that occurred in the end zone.
Considering the Panthers lacked the full services of their big three from last year — Michael Marin and Joe Smith, both coming off preseason injuries — their offense roared like a cave of hungry lions.
Both Marin and Smith played two offensive series’ each; Marin carried the ball just four times — for a whopping 80 yards and a touchdown.
Braden Kelley booted six extra points.
While the Barnsdall offense found its full gear early, the first-team defense also put up some impressive numbers in the first half, limiting Caney Valley to minus-nine yards rushing and recording a forced fumble, three oskies and a few sacks.
But, Sweeney acknowledged the intangibles definitely favored his Panthers. While 27 or his 38 players are juniors or seniors, Caney Valley started a freshman at quarterback and used new starters at seven or eight positions on both sides of the ball.
Sweeney complimented the talent and production of Caney Valley senior offensive/defensive weapon Caleb Colbert.
Mentioning Colbert’s number (10) a few times, Sweeney said “he’s a pretty good athlete.”
Colbert tallied one of Caney Valley’s touchdowns on a 52-yard run, said Mitchell, who also is in his third year as head coach and last year guided the Trojans to the playoffs.
Trinton Meeks powered three yards for the Trojans’ other touchdown. Colbert completed a two-point pass to Jackie Black — Caney Valley’s freshman quarterback — to round out the scoring.
Once Black pushed passed the initial nervousness he delivered some sharp passes, Mitchell said.
Daniel Barham hauled in three receptions for 50 yards, while Seth Gilbreath recorded two catches for 12 yards and Brayden Henry make one grab for five yards.
“The timing’s not there quite yet for Jackie,” Mitchell added. “We’re still kind of back and forth whether it will be Christian or Jackie at quarterback.”
Colbert rushed for 119 yards to lead the offense.
Colbert and Meeks also sparkled on defense with double-digit tackles apiece.
Matthew Whittle added eight or nine tackles, Mitchell added.
Mitchell said he believes Barnsdall will be a tough matchup for anybody on its schedule.
“They’re big,” he added.
Next up, Barnsdall travels next Friday to Afton to try to knock off the defending state champs.