Panthers hope offensive improvement not just passing fancy

Jamarion Buggs will lead the Panthers against Lakeside Friday.

By T. Scott Boatright

Lincoln Preparatory School head football coach Glen Hall didn’t see his team win last weekend.

But he did see improvement, and that’s something he hopes his 2-2 Panthers will build on as they play at 3-1 Lakeside on Friday in Sibley.

The Panthers led Jonesboro-Hodge into the final minute of last week’s game before a Tigers touchdown with 40 seconds left helped them to escape with a 30-26 victory.

“We came away with a lot of pluses out of that game,” Hall said. “We got behind early, but we fought back and took the lead. Then they took the lead and we still fought back and took it again and fought until the end.

“Yes, we made some mistakes but overcame a lot of them. There’s still a lot of stuff we need to clean up. We’re not good enough to win making five or six big mistakes. If we take away a few of those mistakes we come out winners so we’re trying to take this week and clean those mistakes up and see what happens then.”

One big difference between the Panthers’ first three games and the game against Jonesboro-Hodge was that Lincoln Prep passes significantly more than it previously had.

Lincoln Prep quarterback Bralyn Mayfield attempted 38 passes against the Tigers, completing 16 for 166 yards and three touchdowns with one interception.

“After the first series we saw that they were stacking the defensive line,” Hall said. “They weren’t going to give us the run because they knew we had two backs who are having pretty good seasons. 

“It’s called passing, but we threw a lot of screens, three a lot of flares, threw a lot of quick hitches — it was really long handoffs we were going but of course those count for passes,” Hall said. “And we did have a lot of throws downfield, so both our quarterbacks (Mayfield and Chauncy Harper) both did a good job at quarterback.”

Hall hopes it was a game Mayfield will use as a confidence builder.

“It was good to see him throwing the ball well, and he also ran the ball well,” Hall said about his senior quarterback who returned to football this season after not playing on the gridiron since he was a freshman. “He led us in rushing with over 60 yards. So he found out that he is an athlete and can get out and run the ball and make the defense have to make some adjustments that could cause problems for them.”

Harper connected on two-of-three passes for 55 yards while adding three receptions for five yards.

Brandon Heard was the top target on the night with nine catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns while Jamarion Buggs added four receptions for 75 yards and a score.

“He’s become an important player for this team,” Hall said. “He breaks tackles. He goes up over people and catches the ball. He’s doing such a great job that we have to find a way to get the ball into his hands a little bit more.”

Hall getting Buggs more involved in the passing game was another key for the Panthers.

“He’s running deep routes, drag routes and seam routes, catching the ball and making moves to get extra yards,” Hall said. “He also had an interception for a touchdown on defense that was called back. He had a great game.”

Hall said he expects the mental aspect of his team knowing they could have and probably should have won is something he’s focusing his team on this week.

“They showed they can play — that they can go into anybody’s arena and compete with them,” Hall said. “These three games against bigger and talented schools — Jonesboro, Lakeside and then Richwood — I did that for a reason. 

“We’re about to go into district play after next week’s game and I want our guys to understand that they can get out of the field and compete with anybody.”

Hall knows the Panthers will be facing tougher games at Lakeside on Friday and at Richwood next week.

“They’re tough — they’re tough,” Hall said after watching video on Lakeside. “They throw the ball well and have a heck of a running game. They have two guys that run the ball, and even the quarterback is a runner.

“When they open it up they have a lot of weapons, so we’re really going to have to play some good defense and make tackles.”

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