After last week’s 23-16 loss against Hudsonville, the Panthers fell to 6-3 on the season but still made the playoffs. On Sunday afternoon, the MHSAA released the playoff brackets for every division in the state. The MHSAA placed the Panthers in region one, district one for division one classification teams. They received a rematch of last week’s game vs Hudsonville and will play on Friday at 7 pm at Hudsonville’s stadium. The other matchup in the district features the Rockford Rams (5-4) at the Traverse City West Titans (7-2).
At this point in the season, it’s win or go home. The Panthers struggled to hold on to the ball with four turnovers on offense and two blocked punt last week. To succeed this week, WO needs to hold on to the ball and needs to get the run game going. Last week, they only had one large run which came from Max Voet in the third quarter on a 45-yard scamper. Most of the struggles on offense were due to the lack of ball security. The key to success this week for the Panthers is simple; they need to win the turnover battle. The Panthers need to hold on to the ball on offense and have a clean game on special teams.
Last week, Isaac Van Dyke did a good job at finding holes in the defense on pass plays, completing a plethora of shorter routes that helped keep drives alive. On defense, they need to continue to cause turnovers but need to limit the number of big plays they let up. If that is the case this week, they will be competitive and have a good game.
A key part of the game this week is the weather. In the past four weeks of the season, the Panthers have played in rain and are 2-2 in those games. This week, though, the forecast is predicting only a 10% chance of rain in Hudsonville, and the Panthers are 4-1 when not playing in the rain. Another factor that could come into play in this game is the field surface. Hudsonville’s field is turf which should favor the Panthers. It will be a fast track for WO; they will fly around and not slip everywhere, which was the case last week. There were many notable moments where the grass and wet surface changed the game.
Come out and cheer on the Panthers in the first round of the playoffs. The game starts at 7 pm at Hudsonville.