Panthers shut out Anderson 40-0 in impressive season opener

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – John Randall and his teammates celebrate one of their touchdowns on Friday night.

By Ray Hamill — The McKinleyville Panthers look like they will have plenty of depth in the offensive backfield this year, with five different backs scoring touchdowns on Friday night.

They kicked off their season against Anderson at Mack High and scored five first-half touchdowns on the way to a comfortable 40-0 victory.

And it was the depth and balance at running back that proved to be the story of the night.

“We need it this year,” head coach Fel Barlow said. “We don’t have that Connor Berg who’s going to have 20 carries, so we need it.

“It was a good game for us. I was happy all my backs scored.”

The Panthers quickly took control of the game with three first-quarter TDs and they ended it as a contest before the interval after finding the end zone on four of their six first-half possessions, as well as scoring a touchdown on special teams.

John Randall led the way and scored two early touchdowns, opening his team’s account on a five-yard TD run just five minutes into the game.

Tyler Marsh added a second TD on a short run barely three minutes later, before Randall added a second score on a wild special teams play.

A muffed punt attempt was fumbled at around the 10 yard line, with Randall recovering the ball in the end zone.

Senior Graeson Amato added a fourth TD in the second quarter after scoring on a short run, before junior Ayden Hillis closed out the first-half scoring with another short TD run.

Senior quarterback Jack Clancy combined with junior Willy Patton on a five-yard TD pass in the second half to complete the rout.

What most impressed Barlow about the performance was the way the players handled themselves out on the field.

“Our attitude,” he said. “Everybody was respectful out there. There was no whining. And even one of their coaches told me how respectful our kids were.”

The Panthers also dominated on the defensive side of the ball, shutting out the Cubs.

Senior transfer Payton Harbin, who played for Eureka last season, enjoyed an impressive debut with the Panthers.

Harbin played well on both sides of the ball, coming up with a nice interception to help set up his team’s second TD, as well as making a catch for a big gain later in the first half to move the home team deep into Anderson territory.

“Everybody played well,” Barlow said. “There was no one particular person tonight.”

The Mack JVs also impressed, defeating Anderson 40-0 to go to 2-0 on the season.

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