The West Gadsden Panthers played their annual homecoming game Friday against the Port St. Joe Tiger Sharks. The Panther players and fans displayed a lot excitement as they eagerly anticipated the opening kick-off. Star kicker Isreal Grande said “the team had a good week of practice,” and he felt “good and confident coming into the game.”
The Panthers received the ball first, but their opening drive was stopped by an interception. Unfortunately, the West Gadsden offense was unable to sustain a drive in the first half, and their defense was unable to contain Port St. Joe’s running game. At the end of the first half, the Panthers made a brief quarterback switch as Deontae Jackson went under center, but the transition resulted in a pick-six for the Tiger Sharks’ defense. As the clock expired on the first half of the game, the Panthers found themselves trailing by a score of 44-0.
In spite of the score, the home team still had hope, which was evident as they attempted and successfully recovered an on-side kick to open the second half. The inconsistent play of the Panthers’ offense seemed to carry over to the second half as they were unable to capitalize on the opportunity their special team unit provided for them. West Gadsden’s defense played a better second half as they held the Tiger Sharks to only 13 points for the half.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Panthers’ offense gave their fans a reason to cheer as freshman running back Taderrious Knight broke free on a touchdown run of about 60 yards. Despite a good second half effort, the Panthers were unable to produce the points needed to win as they fell to the Tiger Sharks by a score of 57-7.
At the end of the game, Coach Bradwell talked to his team about increasing their energy level. Bradwell told his players “when you walk on this field you need to be a warrior” and “you gotta play through pain.”