On Oct. 27, 2017 the Pinewood Panthers went head to head with Priory for the title of League Champions. Leading up to the game, Pinewood had had an amazing season with five wins and only one loss. Making history, they came out with the win in a brutal fight that continued until the last whistle blew.
“It felt amazing because not only did we win our first solo championship, but we got to beat our rivals over at Priory,” sophomore player Liam Smith said.
The big game took place on Priory’s home turf, but Pinewood surprised the Priory fans as a bus pulled up to the field. Pinewood students and staff poured out of the bus and brought an incredible level of excitement with them. Players could feel the support from their friends, classmates, and faculty as they battled out onto the field.
Head coach Matt Irvin and defensive coordinator Colin Rudolph vigorously worked throughout the entire game. Pinewood began to trail behind as the game progressed. By the start of the fourth quarter, Priory had developed an eighteen point lead. However, the Panthers were determined to give everything they had until the game ended. Senior Quarterback Jaeden Bailey led the team as they began to gain on Priory one touchdown at a time. Before long, Pinewood was inching closer and closer to a tie. In the fourth quarter, wide receiver Marcus Fox
tied the game, sending it into overtime with all of the momentum in Pinewood’s favor. In a thrilling play, senior running back Jackson Haun scored, and Pinewood secured the win with a score of 68-66.
“It was unbelievable, I can’t describe how much it meant to every one of us who was a part of it, especially the seniors. It made all of the hard work worthwhile,” sophomore Austin Farhoudi said.
Students immediately flooded the field while their cheers echoed in the air. A massive huddle of players and students formed on the field as happiness radiated from the athletes. Two players even poured gatorade on Coach Irvin.
“It was a nail-biter; it was very exciting, very intense. Our team played well, they fought hard, and they deserved it,” spectetor junior Hazel Skousen said. Players and coaches agree that the football team was unique this year; a special bond existed on the team that perfectly illustrated the phrase “football is family.”
“Being a part of this team isn’t like anything else in the world, especially now that half the team is leaving along with Coach Irvin. It goes beyond football, and I don’t think there will be another group like there was this year,” Farhoudi said.
Smith also felt the strong sense of community on the team. Older players were helpful towards those less experienced, and the team developed even better friendships during the trip to Santa Barbara.
“I absolutely loved being a part of the team because everyone from the players to the trainers to the coaches is a second family to me,” Smith said.
The game resulted in some fantastic statistics for the team. With a total of 14 pass completions, 235 passing yards, ten touchdowns, and the longest pass of 65 yards, the offense demonstrated a high level of skill throughout the entire game. The game produced 43 carries, 323 rushing yards, and 80 total tackles.
The Pinewood community is extremely proud of the team’s accomplishments, and will greatly miss the talented seniors next year.