The Cusick Panthers do not want to call their upcoming semifinal against Almira/Coulee-Hartline a revenge game. Rather, following two consecutive wins in which they have won by an average of 27 points and scored a combined 98, they are looking at it as a chance for redemption.
In its second game back from falling for the first time this season to ACH 54-6, Cusick (11-1) took it to Columbia-Inchelium (6-4) in the State 1B quarterfinals, beating the Timberwolves 46-28 Saturday at Gonzaga Prep.
The Panthers got rolling early, with quarterback Tyler Edwards throwing touchdown passes to Ryan Sample and Shem Norton, giving them a 14-0 lead over CI with just 2:24 off the clock in the first quarter.
“In 8-man football very important to get a quick start on everything,” Cusick coach Sonny Finley said. “For us to jump out big is really important for us.”
The Panthers kept on the offensive, building a 36-8 halftime lead by way of four passing touchdowns from Edwards. He also ran in a 10-yard score with .5 seconds showing on the clock before the break.
For the game, the Cusick signal-caller threw for 249 yards and rushed for another 24 to lead the offense.
“Edwards is our leader and he’s a great kid,” Finley said. “It’s really important for him to play as he did today. Everything in our offense goes through our quarterback so when our quarterback plays good, our team plays good.”
Despite Cusick showing signs of ending the contest early, the Timberwolves seemed determined to make it a game in the second half.
After tallying just eight points on 181 yards of offense in the first half, CI found the end zone three times in the fourth quarter.
Gaining just 18 yards on nine carries in the first two quarters, Gabe Jones churned out 124 yards on the ground with touchdown runs of 48 and 66 yards to draw the T-Wolves to within 18.
The Panthers held onto the ball long enough to keep a comfortable distance, as Donald Driver carried the ball 11 times for 46 yards and their final touchdown, an 11-yard scamper with 5 seconds left in the third quarter.
Despite the win, the Panthers know it will have been for nothing if they can not redeem themselves against ACH in the semifinals.
“We’re looking forward to this,” Edwards said. “Last time ACH put it to us so we’re ready for a second chance.”
Having knocked on the door of the semis each of the previous two seasons and getting turned away both times, Finley is hoping the redemption will be two-fold. Not only getting a win against the Warriors, but also giving his Panthers a chance to play for a championship.