Panthers start season with win
The Van Alstyne Panther football team traveled to Boyd, Texas, to start the 2021 season against the Yellow Jackets. The 2020 season ended on the same field when it was used as a neutral field in the playoff matchup with Graham. This time, however, the team would be leaving the field with a 41-15 victory.
Mikeal Miller was proud of his team, "Our effort was excellent. We played pretty physically and didn't turn the ball over. We had some big plays on special teams, which is always a good thing this early season. Other than the coaches, we didn't have very many real penalties."
The Panthers amassed 370 total yards on offense, with the majority being on the ground. The Panthers have shown a dedication to the running game this season through its scrimmages. That emphasis showed off in the stats, with the team earning 254 rushing yards. The leading rusher was Senior Sam Wyatt with 84 yards, with the majority of those came in the fourth quarter. Senior quarterback Gavin Montgomery rushed for 75 yards on the night, with 64 of them came on one play, where he burned the Yellow Jacket defense for a score in the third quarter. Throughout the game, it was the rotation of Will Frey and Jaden Mahan at the running back position. Frey rushed eleven times for 38 yards and Mahan sixteen times for 54 yards.
Dakota Howard's kickoff return in the second quarter broke the morale of the Yellow Jackets. It came after the Panther defense slowed the Yellow Jackets' drive in the red zone, forcing a 12-yard field goal to give the Panthers a slim four-point lead. On the ensuing kickoff, Howard took it 83 yards right up the middle; he would go untouched thanks to his blockers and lightning speed.
The Panthers led at half 19-9, with Diego Hernandez would put three points on the board in the final seconds of the half. In the second half, would add three unanswered touchdowns. Montgomery's long 64-yard run would be the first. Then Montgomery would drop in a 33-yard touchdown pass to Dakota Howard. The final touchdown came after Sam Wyatt had an impressive 35-yard run, breaking three tackles on his way to the four-yard line. Wyatt would score on the next play.
The coaching staff awarded Senior Reciever Lucas Lindley the game offensive MVP. Lindley had five receptions for 42 yards on the night. One of those earned an extra fifteen yards when a Yellow Jacket committed a face-mask infraction. The extra yards were well deserved because of the severity of the violation; Lindley's helmet was turned completely sideways.
The coaching staff graded out three players who led the team on the defensive side of the ball; Gavin Bybee, Caden Whitley, and Nic Loya. Loya earned the defensive player of the week for the Panthers for his play on the defensive line.
Miller spoke to what the Panthers would be working on this week, "Our execution offensively. We weren't very consistent. We have to be better tacklers and continue to be physical."
The Panthers have their home season opener against Bonham at Panther Stadium at 7:30 p.m.