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Panthers get tougher test with Pioneers

CHESAPEAKE – After a surprisingly easy 47-8 win to open the season last week, the Chesapeake Panthers can expect things to come a little more difficult the second time around.

Wednesday, September 01, 1999

CHESAPEAKE – After a surprisingly easy 47-8 win to open the season last week, the Chesapeake Panthers can expect things to come a little more difficult the second time around.

Just ask Panthers coach Phil Davis who remembers last season’s 29-22 thrilling win in the final minutes over the Wayne Pioneers.

"They snapped the ball something like 70 times and we had 19, and they have most of their kids back. They’re pretty good. Their fullback is smaller but a lot faster. The kid last year was 250," said Davis.

While Chesapeake was winning, Wayne was suffering a 27-6 loss at the hands of Spring Valley.

"Spring Valley was just so big it was hard to gauge Wayne. They were just too big to do much with. Wayne had to use a different defense against them than they’ll use against us," said Davis.

Wayne, 6-4 last year, is led by running back Luther Carico, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior who gained nearly 1,000 yards last season.

The quarterback is Brandon Adkins (5-10, 180) with Robert Pratt (5-8, 180) the fullback and Mack Copley (5-8,1 55) the other running back.

Davis expects the Pioneers to utilize their running game against his team.

"I think that’s what they do best. Their trap series is good. They run the ball well. They threw the ball around against Spring Valley pretty well. (Adkins) throws ball well. He has a good arm. But they like to stay on the ground," said Davis.

If Adkins goes to the air, his favorite targets are Nick Damron (6-2, 185) and J. R. Talbert (5-10, 155).

Up front for the Pioneers are tackles Jacob Gilkerson (6-0, 245) and Bart Copley (6-3, 215) and guards Jared Sanders (6-1, 195) and Greg Michaels (6-0, 185).

"Defensively, we have to play technique against the trap. We have to play their wing-T with discipline. They’re physical and they have a nice team. They’re the same guys who were ahead of us with three minutes to go last year. This will be a tough game for us," said Davis.

Chesapeake likes its running game engineered by quarterback Andy Clark, but the Panthers can spread the field and throw with speedy Robbie Isaacs and tight end Matt White at their disposal.

"They’re bigger than we are, they’re aggressive and they hit. They basically gave up a touchdown a quarter, but they didn’t roll over and quit. They fly around and you know they’re going to hit you," said Davis.

"Offensively, we can not make mistakes. Last year we moved the ball really well early and stopped ourselves about four times. We were scoring on long touchdowns, but we had some long runs. If we execute, they’ll have trouble with us," said Davis. "I think we can run or throw."

Davis was encouraged by the Panthers performance last week and hopes the momentum carries over this Friday.

"Our kids played well last week. I was proud of them. All our kids understand what a tough year it’s going to be," said Davis.