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Panthers prevail

Mead overcomes mistakes for 42-7 GSL victory over North Central

A 35-point win would please many football coaches, but Mead’s Sean Carty was not content following his team’s 42-7 Greater Spokane League victory over North Central at Joe Albi Stadium on Friday night.

“We’re never satisfied,” Carty said. “We’re never happy. We have high expectations of our players, just like every coach does. For me, we’re still in search of the perfect game, and I know these kids want that, too.”

Mead’s opening drive appeared to be successful, but senior running back Braden Barranco’s touchdown run was wiped out due to an illegal formation penalty. The Panthers then fumbled and gave the ball back to North Central.

Yellow flags littered the field throughout the game. The teams combined for 16 penalties.

Unfazed, Barranco scored touchdowns on the next two drives for Mead, first on a 21-yard pass from quarterback Matt Wetzel, and later on a 7-yard run.

“It feels pretty good,” Barranco said. “I’m just excited to be here. It’s awesome playing in Albi. It’s definitely one of the best experiences of my life for sure.”

Barranco’s touchdown reception came on a fake wide receiver screen, with Braden lined up in the left slot and a decoy receiver to his left. Wetzel pump-faked the screen, the safety bit, and it was an easy pitch-and-catch for the touchdown.

“We planned that one up just for that because we know that’s what they would do,” Barranco said. “That was textbook, for sure.”

Less than 30 seconds later, Panthers junior defensive back Daniel Munoz picked off North Central quarterback Quinn Zerba and juked his way 22 yards into the end zone, building the lead to 21 points.

Wetzel’s second touchdown pass of the game, a 24-yard strike to Garrett Norris before halftime, pushed it to 28.

Mead totaled 219 yards rushing on 30 carries, one week after a 43-carry, 300-yard performance on the ground in a 42-7 win over University.

But Carty was displeased with missed assignments in the Panthers’ option attack that he felt left yardage on the field.

“If assignments are an issue, maybe it’s the coaches’ problem,” he said. “That’s why I probably get so frustrated. It’s not their fault, it’s our fault, and so we’ve just got to clean up our messes.”

Barranco ran for 126 yards on seven carries, including an 83-yard TD in the third quarter that gave Mead a 35-0 lead.

North Central’s offense relied early and often on Zerba, who completed 17 of 35 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown along with two interceptions.

His 4-yard end zone fade to Marcus Saugen late in the third quarter put the Indians on the board with their lone score. Zerba also carried the ball 17 times for 55 yards, having to scramble several times.

“Their quarterback was a pretty good scrambler and we were getting a little too far upfield,” Carty said. “That presented some problems for us. We settled down a little bit. They played great, and we had to play our best to get out of there alive. It doesn’t seem like it, but we had to keep rolling.”

A sense of determination from his players resonated with Carty.

“I don’t see any effort issues,” he said.