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Indians rout Panthers 68-0 in playoff matchup

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By Kristin Beck

The Holy Cross (Covington) Indians ended the Carroll County Panthers’ season for the third time in four years with their 68-0 shutout Friday night in the opening round of the Class 2A playoffs at Holmes High School.

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The Panthers entered the game with the top passing defense in 2A, but was shredded for four touchdowns by quarterback Kyle Fuller. “Their front line on both sides of the ball was very good,” head coach Mike Weedman said. “(We) had opportunities early, and they were just pretty darn good.”

On the first offensive play of the game, Carroll forced a Holy Cross fumble and had the ball on their opponent’s 17-yard-line. But they could not move the ball and turned it over on downs.

The Indians took advantage of the situation and scored on a bomb down the right sideline from Fuller to wide receiver Eric Walker. When asked after the game what he thought would have happened had the Panthers scored on the opening drive, Weedman said, “I don’t think it would have changed the outcome, but it might have been closer.”

Carroll fumbled the ball twice in a row on their next drive, losing the second to Holy Cross linebacker Adam Kozerski. Three plays later, he would be the beneficiary of a touchdown pass in the left corner of the end zone. The extra point attempt hit the cross bar, giving the Indians a 13-0 lead.

Holy Crossscored on two more drives in the first quarter, giving them a 27-0 lead. In the second quarter, Carroll had an opportunity to put some points on the board via the leg of Ben Newby. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the kick was blocked and initially returned for a touchdown but was called back on a penalty. Four plays later, Walker was in the end zone again after a 38-yard catch and run.

By halftime, the Panthers were in a 47-0 hole with a running clock.

Carroll quarterback Trent Downs suffered an apparent rib injury in the first half, but managed to bear it until halftime. John Michael Adams finished the game in his place.

The playoff loss ended the high school football careers for Carroll’s 11 seniors: Travis Branum, Carson Butcher, Nick Carroll, Logan Doll, Downs, Jared Eskew, Dylan Jack, Evan Mefford, Ben Newby, Duane Robbins and Rowdy Yates.

Weedman praised his seniors for their growth over four years. “All 11 of them have showed tremendous growth, not as football players but as young men and that’s the most rewarding of it all is to see the maturity level that has increased over the years,” he said.

Carroll’s 8-3 record was the  most wins for the team since 2003. Weedman said he knows there have been a lot of good teams at Carroll County, but he thinks this year’s is in the top tier of programs in the school’s history. “And it’s because of the dedication and work ethic that the seniors have put in the past four years.”

“A lot of these seniors have been starting since they (were) freshmen … Their freshman year ended at this field and their senior year ended at this field. But the progress that was made between those two has been monumental, phenomenal.”