Panthers defense aids in scrimmage win
While the Saratoga Invite volleyball tournament went on down the hill, the Saratoga High School football team scrimmaged against the junior varsity team of Laramie in the first game of the 2017 season.
Even though the game was a scrimmage and will not count toward season standing for the Panthers, the game was still a welcomed practice for the team and gave players and coaches an idea of the team’s strengths and weaknesses.
The team defeated Laramie JV by a score of 13-2.
The team’s defense was particularly strong, forcing five turnovers—three of them interceptions—during the game. On offense, the team faltered, only capitalizing against a JV team on its heels to put a mere 13 points on the board.
“The defense looks fantastic, it’s definitely an improvement over last year,” Kegan Willford, head coach of the Panthers said. “We are tackling so much better than we did last year and we’ve been hitting really hard on that this year.”
Willford said the offense suffered because of injury, being short several players and learning a new formation the athletes are still becoming accustomed to.
Several players were out with injuries, including a starting offense player. The player was injured earlier in the week and was taken out of the game out of an abundance of caution. Because this weekend’s game was merely a scrimmage against a JV team that does not count toward the season record, it was not worth the risk of exacerbating the injury and losing a player for several games or even the season, Willford said.
A new formation players are learning also gave the offense fits.
“We wanted to put some more points on the board, but the offense will come along,” Willford said. “We have a new formation we’re running this year as our main formation so there’s a lot of timing that goes into the offense, so it’s going to take some time to get that developed.”
Overall, Willford said he was pleased with the team’s showing, and the opportunity to have a low-pressure outing against a real opponent to give the team an opportunity to shake out the offseason cobwebs and get some real practice in before the season starts in earnest.
“It’s tough sometimes when you just practice against yourself and things like that to see where the team’s really at,” he said. “So I was really happy and I think we were really fortunate this year to get a zero-week scrimmage with somebody before the regular season starts just to see where we were, where our strong spots are, where are weaknesses are right now, just things we need to work on.”
The team’s spirit and work ethic was also exercised during the scrimmage.
With temperatures near 90 degrees in Saratoga Saturday- and many players working multiple shifts on both offensive and defensive lines-the opportunity was there for some athletes to get worn down and to throw in the towel.
But none did, Willford said. “They played really well and really hard.; no matter what we asked them to do they stepped up and played really hard.”
The Saratoga Panthers football team’s next scheduled game—and the first of the official season—is on the road against Kemmerer 5 p.m. Friday. The Panthers first home game of the official season will be 5 p.m. Sept. 8, against Wright.