Lady Panthers hang on for season opening win

By Ray DiMonda
Posted 3/15/18

ORANGE PARK – From the first drive, the Baldwin Indians took the ball, drove down and put the Ridgeview Panthers in a hole that they worked at for three quarters to dig out of.

“We talked …

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Lady Panthers hang on for season opening win


ORANGE PARK – From the first drive, the Baldwin Indians took the ball, drove down and put the Ridgeview Panthers in a hole that they worked at for three quarters to dig out of.

“We talked about how mistakes were going to happen, regardless, but it wasn’t about making mistakes, it was about responding to them” said Panther Head Coach Bryan Arnette, who managed a game-long strategy to end up with a 19-13 win on Wed., March 7.

On the Baldwin opening drive, it was opening night jitters that Ridgeview needed to first overcome.

“We have some first year players, some multi-sport players out here,” said Arnette. “They’re learning.”

Once the Indians drove down with a succession of passes and runs to put a quick six on the board, the Panthers stood tall as they broke up the point after attempt, infusing some energy into the home team.

“Baldwin is a team that we had dog fights with the last few years” said Arnette. “They are a top team in the county, always in that top three or four, so we just had to settle down. We knew if we let our emotions get to us, they can run out of here with this thing.”

On offense, it was Brittany Sutton at quarterback showing the home crowd who was practicing her timing throws as she picked off the Indian defense almost at will to march the ball downfield. One of her primary targets was receiver Trenity Gilford, who happened to be the last target of the opening drive. Sutton looked to see a wide-open Gilford, put the ball up and Gilford coming down in the end zone for Panther score number one of the season.

“As it was coming to me, all I could think was don’t drop it” said Gilford of the first Panther touchdown catch of the 2018 season. Ridgeview’s point after attempt was foiled, keeping things tied up, but not for long.

After a back and forth with both teams not able to convert, it was the Indians offensive drive just before half that was working. As the Panthers were still sorting things out, getting the right players into position and players learning their responsibilities, the Indians used a prevailing air attack to work the ball around enough to keep earning first downs. With nine seconds left until half, the Panthers blew their deep coverage, allowing a

Baldwin receiver to stay unchecked. A quick pass and catch and the Panthers were going into halftime down 13-6 after the good Baldwin point after attempt.

In the third quarter, Baldwin started with the ball, only to go three and out and a punt.

On the punt, it was Gilford once again catching the kick, then picking up another 15 yards before any Indians could catch her and strip her flag. The next offensive play, Arnette stuck with Gilford and Sutton hit her on a cross route.

“They are going to catch it, then run their butts off” said Sutton of her receivers. “Just catch it, run, score, and we can move on with the next play.”

With the catch and run, Gilford had her team just 10 yards away from finally putting the game tying points on the board. On the next two plays, it was Katherine Anderson with the sure hands that first caught a 6 yarder, then the 4 yard catch to bring the score to 13-12.

With the good point after reception from Destiny Alston and the game tied at 13, it was time for the Panther defense to make a stand. They did their job and it was back to work on offense.

In the fourth quarter, Sutton looked and saw track sprinter Chereece McEwan open, putting up a great pass that landed perfectly. With the ball in her arms, it was dance time and McEwan didn’t disappoint. After the catch, she ran, twisted, and lunged to get the ball safely across the goal line for the first Panther lead all night 19-13.


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