Facing the unbeaten, number one seeded Fall River Bulldogs in the semifinal round of the Northern Section CIF Division V playoffs, the No. 5 Maxwell Panthers found themselves on the short end of a 52-20 score to bring their season to an end.
It was the second meeting of the year between the two squads, and while the Panthers were shut out 56-0 in the first go-around, they battled last Friday night, putting up the second highest point total this season against the Bulldogs.
In a phone interview, Maxwell head coach Lane Davis said that the final score didn’t really paint a complete picture of his team’s effort against the perennial powerhouse.
“I’m proud of the way we played, especially in the first half,” said Davis. “We stayed with them early and ran the ball well, but they were just bigger, stronger, and faster – and that took a toll on us.”
Rudi Gonzalez got the Panthers on the board in the first quarter, scoring on a 28-yard pass from quarterback Dillon Dry, while Noel Velazquez rambled 11 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Dry, playing in his last game for the blue and gold, scored Maxwell’s final points of the game, making good on a 19-yard run on a night, where he gained 112 yards on 15 carries and additionally completed five passes for 73 yards.
Velazquez, a late-season call-up, rushed 19 times for 97 yards, and also recovered a fumble on defense, which bodes well for the Panthers’ future.
Senior Cale Kuska made six tackles despite the fact that the Bulldogs tried to stay away from the lineman that Davis said is one of the best he’s seen in quite some time.
Two other call-ups in Hector Torres and Mac Kuska also recorded six tackles apiece for the defense.
Although the Panthers left McArthur disappointed, Davis reflected positively on the season as a whole and what the future holds for the program.
“I’m very excited about the direction of this program,” Davis said. “We finished 5-5 last year and got knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. This season we were 6-6, and made it to the semifinals. Our JV team was 10-0, so we have some talented up-and-comers that will make an impact for us.”
Maxwell was the fifth place team in a competitive Cascade Valley conference.■