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Lions host Midway Panthers in showdown for 16-4A title

Which squad will be dealt its first district defeat?
It’s true Friday night isn’t a playoff contest for the Ennis Lions, but it’s a big-time ballgame to say the least.
Ennis (7-0, 4-0), which is ranked third in the DFW area and sixth in the state (83 points), will welcome the Hewitt Midway Panthers (6-1, 4-0) to town.
Midway sits just outside the state top 10 (two points) thanks to its shocking loss to Alvarado in the season opener, but in 16-4A play the Panthers are nothing less than a red-and-blue tidal wave through four games.
“Midway definitely has its hardest district games still ahead [against Ennis, Waco High and Waxahachie], but regardless of schedule they’re an outstanding football team,” said coach Sam Harrell.
“Their defense is barely giving up anything and their offense is so balanced and dangerous with several Div. I recruits. Midway certainly has an identity on both sides of the ball.”
Harrell figures the Panthers realize his team is their biggest test thus far and the coach said Friday brings a good test for his squad against a playoff-caliber opponent.
“We’re going to find out if we step up and play at a different level, which we’ll have to do in order to make a run in the playoffs,” he said.

Midway’s road to 6-1
As great as the season has gone for the Panthers, week one was a nightmare in Alvarado with preseason all-state tailback John Hubert unavailable due to a disciplinary suspension. Midway lost the turnover battle 6-0 and the game 17-7 against Alvarado as the only Panther points came via a 75-yard kick return score by safety Ahmad Dixon. Without Hubert to lean on, quarterback Corey Holmes was average at best (10 of 24 for 93 yards).
Hubert certainly made up for lost time in a 38-0 week-two win over Cedar Park Vista Ridge.
The senior ran for 242 yards and three touchdowns, including a 53-yard scoring run on his first carry of the season. Quarterback Holmes completed just four of 11 passes, but he did throw touchdowns to tight end Trey Graham and receiver Anthony Betters while the Midway defense tallied three interceptions.
The last competitive game Midway played came in week three during a 10-7 win at Crowley. In fact, the Panthers won the game on a 46-yard Scott Newberry field goal with under four minutes left.
Hubert was held to just 83 yards on 16 carries, while linebacker Marc Martinez actually found the most success with 106 yards and a score on nine totes. Holmes’ poor completion percentage continued in the win (6 of 18 for 49 yards).
From the opening whistle against Cleburne, Midway began to roll through district. The Panthers had a 21-point second quarter in a 43-0 victory over the Yellowjackets.
Hubert ran for 190 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries, while receiver Todd Glaesmann made quite an impact in his season opener (8 touches for 145-total yards and 3 scores).
In the first half, Midway only allowed one first down against Cleburne via a penalty while all five of the Panther scoring drives began in Yellowjacket territory. The Panthers forced five turnovers, as Martinez snagged one of Midway’s three interceptions.
In a 43-7 win at Corsicana, Midway went up 43-0 despite losing the turnover battle 3-2. Hubert ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, while Glaesmann also ran for a pair of scores. Midway’s defense alone outscored Corsicana as safety Vyonte Guess scored on a 40-yard interception return and defensive end Terrance Holloman notched a safety.
The next week brought another shutout as Midway topped Waco University 31-0. Hubert ran for 217 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries as University still had just one first down by the time the Panthers led 24-0. Linebacker Charles Kelly and cornerback Austin McDaniel each intercepted passes in the blowout.
Last week’s 55-14 victory over Midlothian marked the first time all season Midway allowed any points on its home field.
Midway led 21-0 less than five minutes into the game as it won the turnover battle 4-0. Hubert ran for 161 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 carries.
Glaesmann finished with 117 total yards and two touchdowns on eight touches as his team piled up 409 yards of offense. McDaniel picked off two passes in the win.
“We didn’t want to let down with Ennis next week,” said Midway coach Kent Bachtel.
“They’re really good, but we’re in a good position. We’ve got games left against three good teams to prepare us for the playoffs.”
Corsicana quarterback Cameron Young and Midlothian signal caller Bryce Petty were each injured for their games with Midway.
“Midway definitely caught Midlothian and Corsicana at good times considering the quarterback injuries they were dealing with, but [Midway] did take full advantage and win big,” Harrell said.

Panther offense in focus
Midway can usually be found in a tight end-slot receiver formation, running a lot of zone, counter and stretch plays. When teams focus in on stopping the run, the Panthers go downfield with the play-action pass.
“I think their offense starts with the O-line, which has five seniors,” Harrell said.
“It’s a solid, cohesive group. [Offensive tackle Ty] Horn stands out because of his size (6-6, 300), but he’s an outstanding Div. I player to lead the unit.
The quarterback Corey Holmes (6-6, 180) is good and he has a couple of outstanding receivers that he wants to get involved. I think his best attribute is his throwing ability downfield after he fakes the handoff.”
On the season, Holmes has completed 52 of 115 passes for 742 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions.
Midway running back John Hubert (5-8, 181) missed the season opener, but that’s not evident in his stats (109-1,076-15). Harrell considers Hubert to be one of the state’s top backs and said any coach would be crazy not to give him 25 touches every week.
“I really think Hubert is similar in terms of ability to Waco High’s [Jarred] Salubi when he was healthy in the last couple of years, but Hubert may be a little faster,” the coach said.
“Hubert has more of a pass threat on his team to keep you honest. They may be the two best backs we’ve faced in the past five or six years.
“If Hubert gets in the open field, he’ll either try to run you over or put a move on you. If you don’t slow him down, you’re in for a long night.”
The team’s other dangerous ground threat is the versatile Todd Glaesmann (6-5, 210), who didn’t play prior to district. Beyond running well (12-169-4), he’s also Midway’s top receiver (15-299-3) and its second quarterback.
“[Glaesmann] is used similar to what Deonte [McDade] does for us – playing some receiver, quarterback and running back,” Harrell said.
“They want him to touch the ball often and he’s a dangerous runner. Defenses are always worried about Hubert and Glaesmann is fast enough to run by his man for the deep ball.”
Harrell said tight end Trey Graham (6-5, 233) is by far the best player Ennis has faced at the position this season. On the year, he has 11 grabs for 163 yards and two scores.
“Graham has great agility for a kid his size and he just adds to the variety of ways they can hurt you,” the coach said.

Midway defense always in attack mode
The Panthers are normally in a three-front with four linebackers. Harrell said the linebackers are involved in every play and are the strength of the unit along with a pair of aggressive safeties.
“It’s a very solid defense up the middle,” he said.
“They attack you and the defensive players definitely feed off each other.”
Defensive end Beau Blackshear (6-4, 230) is fifth on the team with 41 tackles.
“Blackshear is huge for a sophomore and very active up front,” Harrell said.
At linebacker, junior Charles Kelly (5-10, 210) and sophomore Marc Martinez (5-10, 205) are first and second in tackles with 70 and 61 takedowns respectively.
“Martinez and Kelly both catch your eye immediately on film,” Harrell said.
Safeties Ahmad Dixon (6-1, 186) and Vyonte Guess (5-8, 165) are third and sixth on the team in tackles with 52 and 29 respectively.
“Those two attack the ball and make plays,” Harrell said.
“Guess is more about downhill run support, while Dixon does a great job of breaking on the ball for interceptions. [Cornerback Austin] McDaniel (5-10, 170) isn’t as involved as the safeties with the mentality of their Cover 4 defense, but he is aggressive in coverage.”

State of the Lions
Harrell said his team would’ve liked to win last week’s Corsicana game by a wider margin and felt like it could’ve, but there were a variety of things that went against the Lions in that regard.
“Fortunately, we stayed in position to win and the kids answered with some big drives to secure the victory,” he said.
The Panther offense seems to be starting drives at midfield or better far too often, which Harrell considers a compliment to Midway’s defense and special teams.
“We don’t want them to be that comfortable all night, which means we can’t turn the ball over,” the coach said.
“Even if their starting field position isn’t very good, we have to get them off the field.”
The Lions are relatively healthy for week eight, but offensive tackle and situational defensive tackle Micah Kemp is questionable after he fell victim to a cheap shot in Corsicana.
“Hopefully he’ll be able to go as a key contributor for us,” Harrell said.
“Austin Armstrong would probably move out to tackle if needed.”
Harrell said the keys to victory will be containing Hubert, protecting the ball and making Midway face some adversity after the Panthers have been cruising along over the past month.
“The implications aren’t as big as a playoff game, but it’s a great opportunity to take the next step as a team,” he said.

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Posted by on Oct 23 2008. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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