July 18, 2024

Panthers ‘BELIEVE’ during rough start

Postgame reactions from Panther Field

CNA sports reporter Cheyenne Roche gets postgame reactions from Max Chapman after a 50-27 comeback victory over Webster City in the Class 3A quarterfinals Friday.

After Creston’s 50-27 quarterfinal victory over Webster City Friday night at Panther Field, there were a variety of postgame reactions from coaches and players.

Following are some of them on some key factors in the outcome, collected by game reporters Larry Peterson and Cheyenne Roche.

(On facing a 19-0 deficit in the first quarter against what seemed like an unstoppable Webster City power rushing attack in the opening 7:30 of the game. “Believe!” has been a theme of the team’s throughout the season.)

MAX CHAPMAN — Believing is having absolutely no doubt. It’s a lot about trust in your teammates. All of them care. We say believe because it’s not just believe that we’re going to win. It’s the answer to everything. You’ve got to believe your teammates are putting in the work, you’ve got to believe they know what they are doing, believe they are going to make the right tackle, the right play. I think we went out there and didn’t believe in each other and that’s what led to 19-0. Our offense picked it up and never looked back.

AUSTIN EVANS — We put 22 kids out there that have a lot of heart. They just have a lot of heart and they play for the guy next to them, so we weren’t letting that happen. That’s not how we play Creston football. We preach and preach to never give up until it says zero on the clock, and we didn’t. We got the momentum going, got the scoreboard turned around and things turned our way.

BRENNAN HAYES —We just know our defense will show up when they need to and we can score. Even if we can’t get there on the first drive, we will get there eventually. We made some adjustments, but staying on the gas was what did it. We knew if we kept doing our stuff, eventually we’d break through.

CAEL TURNER — Ultimately I knew we just need to worry about the next play. What happened in the past we can’t change. We come out slow every game, which is not good. We can’t have that happen the next two weeks. But we made some changes and all is good now.

WILL BOLINGER — We were there, we just weren’t wrapping up. We had to have some confidence in our tackling. The first half was rough, but the second half was trusting each other and doing our jobs. We’ve played together a long time. I remember in fourth grade, we were down like 14 in the first quarter, but it’s about the guy next to you. We’ve played forever believing in each other. The last couple years have been an eye-opening experience because we didn’t lose much when we were younger.

GARRISON CARTER, assistant coach — We preach “next play” all the time to the guys, so I think as coaches we have to model that. So you don’t let the highs and lows be taken into account too much. I felt like we had a good game plan and we could score some points. We just needed to get rolling.

(On Creston’s offensive adjustments, using Brennan Hayes more in the pass game after the Lynx defense was stacking against the run.)

JAGGER LUTHER (center) — They were physical and quick. We worked on it all week and we (linemen) can communicate, which is the best thing on the field. We just had to go back out there and play our game. We started out a little soft, but we sped up close to the end of the first quarter. We have Cael (Turner) and Brennan (Hayes) back there so we have people who can make plays.

BRANDON BRILEY — We weren’t getting the blocks we needed to, we weren’t catching the ball when we needed it. But we came back firing. We made the adjustments and ended up scoring. We got that two-score lead and it was all us the rest of the way. We believed in our guys and we brought it home.

CAEL TURNER — (On overcoming two interceptions) I just know I have guys that are going to go out and make plays for me. I just get them the ball and they know what to do with it. We all do our jobs to the best of our abilities.

GARRISON CARTER, assistant coach — We’re always trying to put them in conflict defensively. On those (deep middle routes) we were keying their safety. If he’s crashing to support the run, we knew we could run by him and throw it over his head. Our line is really what allows us to do all of this stuff, because they’re buying time for Cael to sit back and make decisions. It helps that he’s shifty with his feet. Brennan is such a dynamic player. A lot of times they were taking away the read to give Brennan the ball in the run game. But he was able to get the ball in the pass game in the open field.

(On Creston’s first touchdown, a trick play coming out of the team’s “Tractor” power formation where running back Weston Trapp takes a direct snap.)

GARRISON CARTER, offensive coordinator — It was fourth-and-three. We were in our heavy goal-line formation. Trapp took the snap, handed it to Brennan, who then pitched to Cael coming from the left, and Cael passed it to Trapp on the right. We call it Trojans. It was a trick play we put in for the Atlantic game. Our tendency on that is to wham the ball for a first down, but they were in man coverage and nobody accounted for the quarterback (Trapp).

(On a first down run on a fake punt by McCoy Haines. It was fourth-and-13 from the Panthers’ 21-yard line. It was punted again after an illegal formation on the punt by Dylan Calvin. This time, Haines was summoned for one of his rugby style kicks where he rolls to the right after receiving the snap. He ran 15 yards for a first down.)

JON THOMSON, special teams coordinator — We were pinned deep so I didn’t want them to return it, so we called for McCoy to use his rugby style kick. I told him to kick it out of bounds, but when he rolls out, if he sees everyone is gone, just run it. It’s a credit to McCoy. He made the decision to go. They were trying to set up a return and he saw the opportunity.

(On Creston’s platooning with separate offensive and defensive units. Several Webster City players were key figures on both sides, including running back/linebacker Jaxon Cherry. Creston’s no-huddle offense is designed to speed the pace of play and cause fatigue in opponents who don’t rest as often.)

BOB HOWARD, Webster City coach — They have 25 seniors and play everybody one way. We have 11 seniors. More power to them, but they can practice twice as much and they’re able to take chances. When they got a lead on us and we can’t throw, that’s tough.

BRIAN MORRISON, Creston coach — Yes it makes a difference. Number 24 was playing both sides, and it started to wear on him. We knew we needed to get him running sideways. It took all 11 kids on defense to corral that kid. He’s a special player. It helps to bring them over and show that we were in position early on, we just weren’t making the tackle.

GARRISON CARTER, assistant coach — We’re getting stronger as the year goes on because these kids are getting more and more reps as the opponent. We’re growing in what we’re able to do offensively and defensively.

MAX CHAPMAN — Jaxon Cherry is a hell of an athlete, but when you have 11 hungry Panthers on your tail every play, it’s really hard to keep up. I really think that’s probably the biggest thing, 11 hats going to the football. When we got down 19-0, we got to the bench and I said however hard you think you’re hitting you have to hit harder. It was the only way we were going to win. I think everyone knew that, so we picked it up to another level.

(Cheyenne Roche contribute to this story.)

Larry Peterson

LARRY PETERSON

Former senior feature writer at Creston News Advertiser and columnist. Previous positions include sports editor for many years and assistant editor. Also a middle school basketball coach in Creston.