Panthers try to reach state final for first time in 18 years

Ethan Baer, Sports Writer

The Panthers are coming off a dominant win against Castle in a regional playoff game that avenged last season’s only loss. This week, South squares off against a very tough opponent in Columbus East. Both football teams have had tremendously successful seasons with both teams losing only once this year.

South will host the first semi state game in nearly two years, this time hoping for a win that would propel them to the state final for the first time since 1998. Last time the Panthers were in semi state, they lost to the eventual state champions, Cathedral in overtime.

This upcoming semi state game is arguably the most important game since coach Mo Moriarity returned to South in 2012. The stakes are high with the losing team going home, and the winner moving on to play in the state final in Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts.

Both teams offenses are very good with Columbus and South both averaging over 10 points through the first 3 quarters. This shows that both teams have very good running backs and solid receivers with deceptive quarterbacks that can strike at any time. According to statistics, Columbus East edges out South in the running game, averaging 350 yards to the Panthers’ 225 yards. In the passing game, it is a completely different story with South averaging 200 yards through the air while Columbus only averages 100 yards. Also, the Panthers’ defense also is dominant compared to the Olympians.

Look for this game to be an interesting one with weird bounces, and nerves showing in the first couple minutes. Expect Columbus to stick to running the ball and passing every once in a while. Watch for South to punish Columbus’ defense with deep passes in the first half, and come out in the second half pounding the defensive line with hand offs to junior Kristian Pechac for the rest of the game. Overall, this game is going to either be a high scoring one, or a toe-to-toe standoff with a low score. With this being the biggest game in arguably 18 years, expect emotions to be high. The start time of the 2016 ISHAA Football State Tournament semi final is at 7 p.m. here at South.