As each season progresses, teams are looking to be playing their best football once the calendar hits October.
Safe to say, the Eastbrook Panthers looked primed and ready for the postseason on Friday night against Madison-Grant, using a dominant first half effort and stout play in all three phases to defeat the Argylls 61-8 in the regular season finale.
“We had a really good week of practice. I think they were really honed in on what they were supposed to do,” Eastbrook Head Coach Jeff Adamson said. “I thought that was really good.”
Along with winning their seventh straight contest, the Panthers also clinched the outright CIC championship in the process.
“It’s always one of the goals,” Adamson said. “Although we weren’t together all through June, we were still talking about it in Zoom meetings and things like that. It’s a neat deal. It’s a great thing.”
The Panthers wasted little time, scoring the first time they touched the ball. After the Argylls went three-and-out to start the game, Jason Hale collected the ensuing punt at the M-G 45-yard and ran untouched into the end zone, giving the Panthers a lead they would not relinquish.
Eastbrook scored on their next six possessions, taking advantage of short fields and running their offense to perfection. Isaiah Dalton scored on a 10-yard rushing touchdown and a 15-yard receiving touchdown on back-to-back drives, and an interception by Dalton on the Argylls’ following possession set up Eastbrook’s fourth score – a two-yard touchdown by Alden Miller.
While the Eastbrook rushing attack was as potent as it always is, the Panthers’ passing game was also impressive. Jett Engle only attempted five passes, but four of them were completed and two of them went for scores, including a beautiful 30-yard strike to Logan Collins down the right sideline for the Panthers’ fifth score.
Coming over from Western, Engle has fit in seamlessly with the Panthers’ program, and his throwing prowess adds another wrinkle to an already high-powered offense.
“He’s just very intelligent,” Adamson said of Engle. “He’s very competitive. He does the option stuff really well for us too. He’s a dynamic player for us and a great fit with the rest of the guys.”
Miller and Hale added two more touchdown runs in the first half, giving the Panthers a 47-0 lead at halftime.
Despite their deficit, however, the Argylls never quit, continuing to battle with the Panthers throughout the contest.
“Coach [Brady]Turner has them going,” Adamson said. “They did things right and fundamentally well and they never stopped playing. Regardless of what the score was, they were still going hard.”
The Argylls’ lone touchdown came late in the third quarter as a result of sound blocking and strong, hard-nosed running. Trey Vetor took an outside stretch run 51 yards to the red zone, and Tanner Brooks capped off the drive with a six-yard touchdown.
“That’s what we keep telling them – play the entire game like it’s the first play,” Turner said. “That’s what we preach to them, and for the most part, they did that I thought.”
Eastbrook added two more touchdowns in fourth quarter – a 59-yard run by Devin Stupples and a six-yard rush by Logan Roush – to secure the CIC championship.
Engle finished four-for-five for 97 yards and two touchdowns, while Miller led the Eastbrook ground game with 88 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries. As a team, the Panthers ran for 303 yards on just 37 totes.
Eastbrook will begin sectional play at home against Blackford this coming Friday night. Madison-Grant will have a first-week bye before facing either Tri-Central or Wes-Del on October 30.
“Our schedule prepares us for the sectional,” Turner said. “We played a 4A team in Mississinewa, a 3A team in Oak Hill, and then Eastbrook. It just prepares us for the 1A team we will see in our sectional. Hopefully, that has built our confidence up and given us what we need to move forward.”