CAHOKIA — Junior Klayton Gettis and the O'Fallon Panthers unleashed their fury Friday.
Gettis scored three touchdowns and sophomore Tucker McCann kicked four field goals as the Panthers wiped out an early 6-0 deficit and drubbed Cahokia 40-12 in their season opener.
Gettis had a 79-yard kickoff return for a TD and caught scoring passes of 2 yards and 15 yards from sophomore quarterback Camden Bauer. McCann's field goals came from 49 yards, 33 yards, 31 yards and 27 yards, and he also kicked three PATs.
"I felt like our team played very good," said the 5-foot-9, 175-pound Gettis. "We didn't play so good in the beginning, but as the game started to (play) out, we did really good."
Game-time temperature was 96 degrees, but outside of some cramping, both teams overcame the heat.
O'Fallon, ranked sixth in the Class 8A poll, also got a 24-yard TD run from sophomore tailback Kentrail Moran (19 carries, 94 yards).
"Obviously, the first game you never know how kids are going to react," Panthers coach Brandon Joggerst said. "We weren't real smooth to start the game, but I think once they got settled into it, we were able to sustain a few things. And defensively, I thought we were pretty good all night."
Cahokia managed just eight first downs, and five of them came on O'Fallon penalties.
The Comanches' only scores were a 1-yard run by junior Keveion Akins that put them ahead 6-0 and a 13-yard pass from senior quarterback Darby Perry to sophomore Tyron Lyons on the final play of the game.
In between, O'Fallon reeled off 40 unanswered points.
"We came out fired up, (but) the numbers game got to us," Comanches coach Antwyne Golliday said, referring to O'Fallon's depth advantage. "We're going to fool some people, but O'Fallon was going to be ready. I don't care if it was a blizzard.
"We hit them in the mouth, but once they start playing the numbers game and fatigue kicked in ... We've just got to get in better shape."
O'Fallon sputtered badly on its first two possessions, running six plays for minus-27 yards. And when Bauer fanned on a punt, Cahokia got the ball at the Panthers' 8 and scored three plays later to grab its 6-0 lead.
It didn't last long, as Gettis fielded the ensuing kickoff, cut through traffic and raced down the left side to put O'Fallon on top for good.
"That was the spark that lit us," Gettis said. "We can get a lot better, but for the first week, it was a good game overall."
O'Fallon senior defensive lineman Kory Poelker had three personal-foul penalties in the first half and was ejected. Poelker will not be able to play next Saturday against Loyola Academy, at East St. Louis.
"We can't have mental mistakes like that," Joggerst said. "You've got to keep your composure. We preach that a lot."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.