Something about a fast start for a speedy team that borders on criminal.
That’s exactly what happened for the Mead Panthers, and the victim, the Davis Pirates, couldn’t do anything about it.
Mead scored four touchdowns in the first quarter as the Panthers took advantage of two Davis turnovers. Before the Pirates knew what hit them, the Panthers led 41-15 at halftime on their way to a 68-22 whitewash in a 4A play-in football game at Joe Albi Stadium.
The speedy legs of Davian Barlow, Wes Bailey and Evan Maack combined with the pinpoint passing of quarterback Andy Wetzel propelled Mead to its rapid start.
Mead (9-1) stays home next week. The Panthers will face perennial power Skyline (7-3). No decision has been made whether the game will be Friday or Saturday.
Barlow rushed for 128 yards on 14 carries in the first half and two touchdowns, Bailey had a TD and 96 yards and Mack had 80 and a TD – all in the first half. Wetzel completed his first four passes in the opening two quarters for 106 yards and two TDs.
Mead finished with 438 yards rushing and Wetzel threw for 137.
The senior quarterback knew his opportunities to throw would be limited this year when the Panthers switched to a new offense – the fly.
“I knew at the beginning of the year we weren’t going to be throwing as much as I’ve been used to but I’m willing to do whatever it takes,” Wetzel said. “That’s all I care about. Our goal is to win a state championship.”
Mead made few mistakes. Even so, Panthers coach Sean Carty made it a point to talk about them at halftime.
“I was pretty upset at halftime just because of the little things – the blocked extra points and jumping offsides,” Carty said. “If you’re going to be a team that carries on, you’ve got to limit those things.”
Mead led 47-15 going into the final period. The Panthers finished as fast as they started, scoring three more TDs.
“At most times we played very, very well,” Carty said. “We put some things together that we had been missing up to this point. I think we’re getting there.”
Wetzel, who completed 7 of 8 passes, agreed.
“Our line did a great job blocking, our backs ran really hard and our defense stopped them when we needed to,” Wetzel said.
Barlow led the way on the ground, finishing with 163 yards. Bailey and Maack each had 96. Bailey also caught three passes for 96 yards and Barlow had three receptions.
“We played a really solid game,” Wetzel said.
“We caught some breaks early that were unfortunate for them,” Carty said. “They were a very good team.”
The Panthers know they’ll face a stiff test against Skyline, which captured three straight state titles before Ferris ended the string last year.
Wetzel is looking forward to the first round of the playoffs.
“Hopefully we can build on this and keep going,” he said.