Panther Creek High’s one-win football season two years ago continues to fade in memory as the Catamounts dominated Cary 40-7 for their fifth straight victory in a Friday night home game.
“It’s in the rear view mirror,” third-year Panther Creek coach Sean Crocker said. “The guys have done a great job of learning from it and not wanting to repeat it. I’m proud of how hard they have fought back.”
Panther Creek improved to 5-1 and 2-0 in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference.
Crocker left a playoff program he built at Middle Creek to take over a playoff program he inherited from Wayne Bragg, but the first season was a long one.
“We had a transition going from Coach Bragg to Coach Crocker,” said Panther Creek quarterback Brenden Magner, a third-year varsity starter. “But once we got acclimated to him and the way he does things, we started to do what we do now on Friday nights.”
Magner was one of four sophomore starters on the Catamounts’ young 2012 roster. He looked like a veteran against Cary, completing 11-of-13 passes for 119 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. His two incompletions were drops.
Cary fell to 0-6 and 0-2 in conference play. The Imps scored early in the third quarter when defensive lineman Roderick Perry picked off a deflected pass and rumbled 20 yards to the end zone, shedding tacklers.
Cary coach Kurt Glendenning’s message to his team was to stick together and not point fingers.
“It’s really tough to keep together when we’ve had so many injuries and adversity,” he said. “The coaching staff has a job to do to counsel and teach these kids that adverse things happen in your life.”
Panther Creek scored on its first possession with a three-play, 50-yard touchdown. Caleb Cross caught a 44-yard catch-and-run touchdown pass from Brenden Magner. Cross’ score and Diamante Taylor’s 8-yard touchdown reception were sandwiched around a safety for the 16-0 first-quarter lead.
In addition to Panther Creek taking advantage of the safety on a 35-yard sack in the end zone, two second-period turnovers in Cary territory on back-to-back second-period possessions resulted in the score quickly mounting.
On the safety, the ball was snapped over the quarterback’s head, but instead of falling on the bouncing ball he picked it up and his momentum carried him to the end zone, where he was tackled by junior defensive back Isaiah Laster.
On Cary’s initial second-quarter possession, a fumble at the Imps’ 40-yard line was followed eight plays later by Toney Bass’s 2-yard touchdown run for a 23-0 lead.
On the ensuing possession, Panther Creek’s Juwan Byrd intercepted a pass at Cary’s 39 and returned it to the 14. Two plays later, Justin Smalls caught Magner’s third touchdown pass for a 30-0 halftime lead.