Panthers smash Central at The Den

Junior Akeem Gibbs gets past Central player Quadavis Battle and scores a touchdown to put the Panthers up 7-6 in the first quarter of the game. (Photo: Poyner)


The Lecanto Panthers (2-1) grabbed their second win of the season Friday, September 16, over the Central Bears (0-4) by a score of 35-6.


The Panthers were put into instant shock when Central kick returner Quadavis Battle took the opening kickoff return back ninety-four yards for a touchdown. Lecanto would not let this get in the way of playing to the best of their abilities.


The Panthers drove down and scored on their first drive, which lasted only six plays and less than four minutes. The drive was capped off by an 8-yard run by junior Akeem Gibbs to put the Panthers up 7-6.


“The boys were very resilient; to have the opening kickoff taken back on you and then come back and score shows a lot,” said head coach McKinley Rolle.

Senior Brandon Dawes blocks a Central defender to help create space for his running back to break through. (Photo: Poyner)

The next score for Lecanto would come from junior quarterback Scott Stearns, who looked to be sacked but avoided a few tackles and scrambled sixty-eight yards for a touchdown. The Panthers failed on the two-point conversion and the score stayed 13-6.

Lecanto moved the ball up and down the field with the ground game on Friday, which was a big asset to the win.


“We have the ability to run the ball consistently well,” Stearns said.


Before the end of the quarter Lecanto scored once again off a 10-yard run by Nile Waters to put them up 20-6 after Stearn’s extra point.


Lecanto scored twice in the second quarter, first on a 5-yard pass from Stearns to Gibbs (28-6), then senior running back Tra’vaun Greenlee had a swift run for forty-three yards that he took to the end zone to put Lecanto up 35-6.


The Panthers played very hard on the defensive side of the ball. They didn’t give up any points, and they were flying to the ball, making sacks and big hits left and right.


“The defense played well. They gave up no points, which is always a good thing,” said defensive coordinator Anthony Branch.


According to Rolle, the best player on the defensive side of the ball was pony linebacker Nile Waters who was chosen as “Player of the Week.”


“Nile had an excellent game; he had 3 sacks, numerous tackles for a loss, a touchdown and several quarterback hurries,” said Rolle.


Waters was very humbled and appreciative to be chosen for this award.


“It’s a huge honor to be ‘Player of the Week.’ I had a good game, but I know I can do better,” said Waters.


When asked about the how the defense played Friday, Waters simply said, “Our D is amazing.”


Many players and coaches were happy getting the win against Central.


“The win felt great because we’re starting a new tradition of winning here at Lecanto,” said Stearns.


Coach Rolle was very excited to get the victory but knew the team had to get right back to work.


“A win always feels good. We celebrated for a few hours, but then we right away started getting our heads right for next game against Citrus,” said Rolle.


The Panthers play next Friday against their cross-county rivals at the Citrus Hurricanes’ field.


When asked about the upcoming game versus Citrus, many Lecanto players simply said with a smile, “Citrus…never heard of them.”