Pana’s SCC tire arrives in a “good atmosphere” in Carlinville (with 23 photos)


CARLINVILLE – Whether by design or by chance, the schedule of the 2021 South Central Conference football schedule was impeccable.

The final week of the regular season sent undefeated Pana to Carlinville once beaten with the SCC Championship on the line. And the Panthers went undefeated on Friday night, overcoming a fourth quarter deficit to defeat the Cavaliers 27-13 in front of a large crowd at Carlinville High School.

“What a great atmosphere,” Cavs coach Chad Easterday said. “To be honest with you, it’s every coach’s dream to play a week like this. We’re not on the safe side of that, but what a great experience for us to talk (Saturday) and then Monday, move on to the playoffs when it’s over. Most of the time, these children in this environment have tears because their season is over. So a highlight – if there is one tonight – is definitely playing in a game at this level. “

Tears will come with the playoff elimination and both teams were given their playoff routes on Saturday night, with 7-2 Carlinville securing a Class 3A home game against the 5-4 Du Quoin Indians. Pana brings her 9-0 record and SCC Championship back to Brummett Field for a Class 2A first round match against Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond 5-4.

Pana went from No.5 to No.7 in this week’s latest Class 2A State Poll, with Wilmington and Breese Mater Dei – both 9-0 – dropping a class of 3A.

But polls and playoffs were not concerns for the Panthers in Carlinville, where Pana relished their field triumph from a Cavaliers program that had tied Pana with four SCC titles in the previous six seasons.

“Anytime you can come here,” said Panthers coach Trevor Higgins, “especially for a 9-0 season, it’s special.”

Pana was a decided favorite at the finish but trailed 13-12 early in the fourth quarter before rallying with a 99-yard run ending in a 67-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Max Lynch. to wide receiver Ace Armstrong and a 31-yard run by Lynch. until his 1 yard TD sealed him the victory.

“Pana, Carlinville, Greenville,” said Easterday, “we’ve been at the top of the conference for many years. I never want to say it was their turn – I don’t believe in that philosophy – but Pana has a great group of kids and athletes who work well together. We did our best and it just wasn’t enough tonight.

Lynch, a 5-foot-11, 160-pound junior, became CSC’s most dynamic offensive threat, passing over 1,000 yards with 15 touchdowns and one interception, and rushing over 1,000 yards with an average of 12.4 yards per carry and scoring 15 TDs in eight games.

At halftime, Lynch had covered 16 yards on seven carries and completed 4 of 11 passes for 67 yards. Carlinville’s defensive plan was to form a Lynch mob to keep the elusive quarterback out of open space. The Cavs defense had to sell, more than a little.

“A lot, and it cost us,” Easterday said. “It was a poison-type game plan to contain it. And I’ll be honest with you, I felt like we had confined him for most of the night.

Lynch missed the open receivers and the Pana open receivers dropped passes to help Carlinville tie 6-6 at halftime.

“We knew we had to play zero cover all night to stack the box,” Easterday said. “I think our kids did a really good job with it. Just a little disappointed that we didn’t execute the attack as cleanly as we have in the past. Some things to work on ahead of the playoffs.

Carlinville’s offense made five turnovers – all on interceptions – and the containment of its defense against the Panthers QB faltered in the second half. Higgins believed an escape was inevitable.

“Max just needed to calm down a bit,” Higgins said. “We haven’t been in a lot of close games so there was a lot of pressure. I think he felt that way, I think he tried to do too much. He did some bad readings. When he settled in, that’s when our attack moved the ball and I was really happy with him.

Carlinville got a record-breaking night from senior wide receiver Carson Wiser, who set regular-season school records for receptions and receiving yards to break the records set by Kyle Dixon. The 6-0, 190-pound Wiser had 10 catches for 68 yards to bring his season tally to 70 receptions for 977 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Dixon still holds full season records with 85 catches as a junior in 2017 and 1,423 receiving yards, with a record 21 touchdown catches, as a senior in 2018.

“He’s a great athlete and we can move him,” Easterday said of Wiser. “His football IQ is out of this world. He’s able to do things that are a lot like Kyle Dixon.

Other numbers were closer than the final score. Carlinville had the clock, running 78 games against Pana’s 47. The Panthers finished with a 323-yard offense, the Cavs scored 319.

Carlinville senior running back Mason Patton recorded his fifth rushing game on 100 yards for 115 yards on 30 carries, while senior wide receiver Ethen Siglock finished with nine receptions for 54 yards.

Getting both a win and playoff prep against a dangerous offense – as well as his 50th win to reach 50-9 in his sixth season at Pana – made it a productive night for Higgins.

“Credit, again, Carlinville,” Higgins said. “We just haven’t seen full-backs and receivers like that this season. Maybe, week 1 with Vandalia. It takes that kind of experience. It’s a great game to get us ready for the playoffs. A lot of pressure was on our guys this week. They walked in, it wasn’t pretty, but they got the job done. I expect we will come out next week much more efficient.

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