With three losses, there’s no more wiggle room for the O’Fallon Panthers.
The Panthers, in desperate need of a victory, will play host to undefeated Edwardsville in a Southwestern Conference game at 7 p.m. Friday.
“We’ve just got to focus on the task at hand,” Panthers coach Brandon Joggerst said. “You can’t get all caught up in the exterior stuff. Not to use quotes and old sayings, but you’ve got to control what you can control, do your job and do all the little things. Then things will turn out the way they should.”
Edwardsville is no less desperate to keep its momentum rolling, but coach Matt Martin anticipates a tough battle if the Panthers are able to limit their mistakes.
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“We’ve told our kids, ‘If you take away their mistakes and turnovers, they’re a good football team,’” Martin said. “Any time you mistakes, particularly turnovers, it makes good teams look bad. When I watch film and O’Fallon is just playing football and not turning the ball over, they’re good. Their (running) backs, D-line and linebackers are good. They get a lot of tackles for losses and they don’t give up the big play. They’ve always played us tough.”
Behind a balanced offense led by senior quarterback Riley Jones and senior tailbacks Jackson Morrissey and Kendell Davis, the Tigers cast angst on opposing defenses. Jones has passed for 289 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 333 yards and three TDs. Morrissey has 288 yards and five TDs.
“They’ve been very consistent offensively,” Joggerst said. “They’ve really established the running game and the quarterback runs it well, so they’ve got some weapons back there. And they have the ability to throw when needed, so it’s pretty typical of how they’ve been the last couple of years. (Jones) has played very well. They put up a lot of points every week.”
FRIDAY’S GAME: Edwardsville (3-0 overall, 1-0 SWC) at O’Fallon (0-3, 0-1), 7 p.m.
RANKINGS: Edwardsville is ranked No. 6 in the Class 8A state poll and No. 1 in the News-Democrat’s large-school poll.
LAST WEEK: Edwardsville defeated Collinsville 33-7; O’Fallon lost to Belleville West 13-12.
LAST MEETING: Edwardsville defeated the visiting Panthers 13-9 on Oct. 10, 2014.
GROWING PAINS: Panthers sophomore quarterback Christian Perez has already been intercepted six times, which has hurt the offense.
“We’ve got to put him in good situations,” Joggerst said. “We’ve sort of narrowed the scope on some things we’re trying to ask him to do. He’s still a sophomore, so he’s learning and getting better. He’s going to be a very special player.
“We’re very young, especially on the offensive side of the ball. We’re starting, at times, 10 underclassmen on the offensive side. They’ve got to grow up quickly. We’ve got to play better and be more consistent. We’ve got to move the ball a little bit and keep our defense off the field.”
CONTAINING MORAN: Senior tailback Kentrail Moran, an Illinois recruit, has been the Panthers’ steadiest offensive performer with 258 yards on 63 carries.
“He’s fast, he’s physical, he’s got experience and he knows what to expect,” Martin said. “No. 20 (junior Mason Hewitt) is their new kid and he’s a good back in his own right.”
Hewitt has 110 yards on 17 carries.
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