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Young Vikings must go against desperate Panthers again

Here we are again.

Each season the Chesapeake Panthers face opening games against Portsmouth and Wayne, W.Va.

The last couple of seasons, the Panthers have began 0-2 and faced a must-win situation against the Symmes Valley Vikings.

Guess what? Yep. The Panthers are 0-2 and hosting the Vikings (1-).

“They’re always backed in a corner. It seems to be that way every year. This is a big ball game for both of us,” said Vikings coach Rusty Webb.

Both teams have a lot of new faces this season, but Panthers coach Phil Davis said there isn’t much of change.

“They have a lot of new faces but they have a lot of size. From what I’ve seen, they should have been 2-0,” Davis said. “They went up and down the field against Southern and didn’t score.”

Webb said he doesn’t see much difference in the Panthers as well.

“They’re a typical Chesapeake team. They have a lot of speed and good skilled kids. Their offensive line is doing a good job,” Webb said.

With fullback Kersten Harris, running backs Mike Stapleton, Jaran Bartoe and Terry Brown and quarterback Aaron Donohoe, the Panthers have lived on big plays offensively this season.

“We have to eliminate their big-play capabilities. With their type of offense, we have to be very disciplined,” Webb said. “They’re going to spread us out and move our defense.”

The Vikings have virtually an all-new backfield. The only holdover is quarterback Chris Capper while by Kirt Shipley and Chad Thompson are getting the bulk of the carries

Davis said the Vikings are taking advantage of Capper and breaking their normal run-oriented style.

“They seem to throw the ball more and they break the wishbone and give you more sets. They haven’t done that in the past,” Davis said.

While the offenses seem to hold the spotlight, the game could ultimately be decided by the defenses.

“Their defense is pretty good. They run to the football and they hit you,” Davis said.

‘They’re defense is pretty good. They run to football and they hit you.

Webb expects the same from the Panthers.

“They’re going to spread us out and move our defense around. Defensively, they run to the ball well. I know they’ve given up big plays, but they seem to get better each week,” Webb said.

Davis agreed that the Panthers defense has improved, but he noted that “we still have some stuff to iron out.”