- Special Sections
- Public Notices
The Carroll County Panthers are assured a winning season after holding off a determined group of Dayton Greendevils, 27-19, at Panther Field, Friday. The Panther win broke a four-game losing streak and set up a playoff match this week at highly-touted Newport Central Catholic.
Friday’s game had barely begun when rain began to fall. The Panthers, who have competed in rain for most of the past seven weeks, were determined to close out the regular season with a win for the team’s seniors.
“The win wasn’t easy,” said Carroll County Head Coach Mike Weedman. “We practiced in the rain this week. We practiced with a wet ball on days when it wasn’t raining. For the past seven weeks we’ve been dealing with rain, but nothing came between us and a win tonight.”
Carroll’s win was the sixth in 10 games. Whatever the outcome of the playoffs, the Panthers can celebrate their first winning season in six years, according to Weedman.
“Our goal for the year was to have a winning season,” Weedman said. “We had four back-to-back losses, and we overcame a lot of adversity.”
Carroll scored first on a carry by senior Andy Sisenstein with 7:05 left in the first half. The kick for the extra point failed, leaving the Panthers on top 6-0.
Dayton answered on their next possession when Andy Thornton returned the kickoff for a touchdown. The kick was good to give Dayton a 7-6 edge with 6:51 remaining in the half.
Carroll County’s next score came when Sisenstein intercepted a Dayton pass and ran it in for a second touchdown. An attempt for a two-point conversion failed, but Carroll County led 12-7 with 1:20 remaining in the half.
“That,” yelled Coach Weedman to the rest of his team on the sidelines, “was a pretty big play!”
Sisenstein scored yet another touchdown with 1:16 remaining in the third period. This time the two point conversion was successful and the Panthers owned a 20-7 lead.
“Andy was the heart of the line tonight,” Weedman said. “He is the most impressive player I have ever coached. He has only played two years, and it’s amazing how quickly he picked up the game.”
Dayton, looking to close a 1-8 season with a win, came roaring back late in the game. A touchdown with 5:22 remaining in the third left Carroll holding a 20-13 lead. The Greendevils scored early in the final quarter to pull within one at 20-19.
“Dayton didn’t lay down,” Weedman said. “They fought for it.”
Carroll sealed the win when senior D.C. Craig plunged into the end zone from the one-yard-line with 8:24 remaining in the game.
“D.C. Craig stepped up tonight in a big way,” Weedman said. “He ran the ball well and blocked well. We gave him the ball several times up the middle and I think that kind of broke (Dayton’s) spirit late in the game.”
Freshman Tom Corley was called in for an attempt at the extra point. Corley, whose father had died early Friday morning, nailed the kick for the eventual final score of 27-19.
Weedman said Corley insisted on dressing for the game.
“Your dad was looking down from Heaven and I know he’s very proud of that kick,” Weedman told him after the game.
“You took a big step forward tonight,” Weedman told his team following the game. “We are very proud of you. Dayton brought their A game tonight. Everybody learned a lot together.
“It doesn’t get any easier from here on,” Weedman told his team. “By playing DeSales and going up against Newport Central Catholic next week, you can wear with pride the knowledge that you went up against the very best.”
Weedman said the Panthers will have faced two of the three best teams in the state.
“Every coach’s goal is to win a state championship,” he said. “But to be the best you have to beat the best.”
Win or lose, the coach looks forward to the game with Newport Central Catholic as an opportunity for his kids to learn.
“It’s important for our team to see a program like that and to play against teams like DeSales,” Weedman said. “We hope the players can learn by watching what they’re doing and see what it takes to play at that next level. Of course, we’re going to have to limit our mistakes and play the very best we can.”
Newport Central Catholic brings a 5-5 record into this week’s matchup. The Thoroughbreds play a very competitive schedule with several 6-A and 5-A schools among their season foes.