Panthers thump White River in season-ending exhibition match | Bonney Lake Football
By KEVIN HANSON
Bonney Lake-Sumner Courier-Herald Reporter
November 2, 2012 · 12:14 PM
A Thursday night exhibition win capped the end of the Bonney Lake Panthers' football season.
After finishing the regular portion of the 2012 campaign out of playoff contention, the Panthers were paired against neighboring White River in a crossover contest that was part of a series matching clubs from the South Puget Sound League’s 3A and 2A divisions. While the verdict was still in doubt in the third quarter, it was the Panthers who celebrated at the final buzzer, laying claim to a 35-7 victory.
The first two possessions of the second half were crucial in deciding the final outcome.
White River was on the short end of a 21-7 score heading into halftime, but came out appearing poised to make a game of it. Dustin France opened the second half with a long kick return to near midfield and Austin Barker soon added a nice run that took the ball to the 8-yard-line.
In the first of the key possessions, the Hornets ran the ball four times and were rebuffed by Bonney Lake, handing the ball to the quick-strike Panther offense.
Bonney Lake did nothing on three plays but then took the wildly unusual course of running a pass play on fourth down from its own 4-yard-line. The gutsy call reaped the ultimate reward, as senior quarterback Chris Brown connected with Zach Zaragoza, who dodged one Hornet defender on the way to completing a 96-yard touchdown play.
In the span of just a few minutes, the momentum had gone from White River knocking on the door to Bonney Lake running away to a 28-7 lead. The Panthers added the final TD of the game moments after the majority of the starters were pulled from the game, with Brendan Studebaker scoring on a short run.
The first-half scoring started with Bonney Lake’s Logan Coutts taking a 16-yard pass from Brown. White River’s lone touchdown came on a short run by Keenan Fagan and, following the extra-point kick by France, the game was tied. The Panthers added first-half scores on a run by E.J. Harris and an 18-yard aerial from Brown to Zaragoza.
In terms of team growth, this season's progress could be considered a wash; the Panthers achieved a 2-3 win-loss conference record both in the current season and 2011. The Panthers dipped its toes into playoffs four years in a row, playing exactly one game into postseason each year from 2007-2010 under coaches Jeff Gardner and Chad Barrett. Barrett's final season saw the Panthers fall short in a final regular season game against the Lakes Lancers and end with a 2-3 conference record.
Current head coach Jason Silbaugh achieved the same 2-3 record this season. Considering Silbaugh's early season concerns about offensive-defensive balance, chalk it up to growing pains and hope for better luck next year.Contact Bonney Lake-Sumner Courier-Herald Reporter Kevin Hanson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-825-2555.