Panthers put pieces together at Southside

Published 3:19 pm Saturday, August 13, 2016

CHOCOWINITY — Northside took part in a five-team scrimmage jamboree at Southside on Friday evening. The Panthers were in good form a week ahead of their season opener at Creswell.

They had a strong evening on both sides of the ball, but it was the Panthers’ defense that appeared to be the strongest. Coach Keith Boyd said he was pleased with the physicality and the way everyone was flying toward the ball.

Between Plymouth, Southside and Washington, Northside’s defense got to face plenty of tough challenges. The Panthers had especially strong showings against a retooled Pam Pack offense. Inside linebacker Cameron Cahoon picked off Washington’s Tripp Barfield and the Panthers were able to hold the Pam Pack at the goal line, too.

“When you can go 10 plays against Washington, as good as they are, and hold them out of the end zone, I’m ecstatic,” Boyd said. “They got inside the 10-yard line and ran five or six plays. We were able to stiffen up.

“In years past, we’d fold right there. We’d get our heads down and let somebody walk in. We’re starting to get some want to and care about keeping people out of the end zone.”

What it boils down to is exactly what Boyd has enjoyed about this group so far. This team, at least on paper, appears to be one of the best Northside has had in some time. There’s a drive beyond the talent that has made this preseason a productive one for the Panthers.

“This is probably the best group I’ve had. Now, what that equates to record-wise, we’ll have to see,” Boyd said. “They’re having fun, they’re getting after it, they love football and they’re fun to coach.”

The offense had its moments to shine, too. As expected, Jackson Midgette and James Barrow were effective in moving the ball on the ground. Matthew Marslender slotted in well with the reps he got at quarterback, too.

Chris Slade takes the ball out of the backfield. Northside’s offense stuck to its ground-based offense on Friday, but also opened the playbook and tried some passing plays.

The Panthers did well running the wing-T and option offenses they had been practicing for the last few weeks. Boyd also took the opportunity to open up his playbook and run some things that they hadn’t even practiced much.

Some of the newer things Boyd tried were pass plays. He hopes that the running game can open some aerial options that allow the Panthers to use Midgette’s arm and the talent they have at receiver.

“Offensively, we were more efficient. We cut the penalties out,” Boyd said. “I tried some stuff we hadn’t practiced with that spread stuff. I just wanted to see it on film and what we need to do to get it corrected.

“That’s what all this is for. I took the playbook and opened it up to see what we need throw out, what we may need to add and what we may need to run more.”

The scrimmage and film from it gives Northside an idea of what needs to be fine tuned over the course of the next few days as it prepares to open the 2016 campaign.