Updated Fri, Nov 2, 2012 2:52 pm
At the beginning of the season, few people would have picked the Maysville Panthers to win nine football games and be in the playoffs. Post-season hopes seemed to be a dream for their football team, but they have become reality as the Panthers travel to Steubenville Saturday night to play in their school’s first ever playoff game.
“We’ve taken the attitude that people didn’t expect us to be here to begin with,” Maysville head coach Craig Clarke said. “So nobody’s expecting us to win and we’re going to just keep proving people wrong.”
The Panthers have the underdog mindset and rightfully so. The Steubenville Big Red are no stranger to success as they are 46-21 all-time in the playoffs and have won three state titles.
“Tradition wise they’ve been there before and it’s a great environment,” said Clarke. “It’s going to be a big challenge for us.”
One of the biggest challenges facing the Panthers is stopping the potent run game of the Big Red. Led by their bruiser Dashon Redman, Steubenville averages 214 rushing yards per game.
“They like to pound the ball at you with their big running back and they line up with two tight-ends,” Clarke said. “They pull a lot of guards and tackles and they like to control the ball.”
Maysville’s offense is not to be eclipsed by the hype of the Big Red’s ground game. Jordan Hayes, Eli Chambers, and C.J. Harris all have the ability to break off a big play and score for the Panthers.
“We’ve got many different weapons and we try to keep people guessing,” Clarke said. “That’s what we’re going to have to do because their defense is pretty good.”
To add to an already talented defense, playing on the road is never an easy task—especially when you’re playing at a stadium nicknamed “Death Valley” which is home to a fire-breathing horse.
“Anytime you’re on the road in the playoffs it’s tough and when you go to Steubenville it’s even tougher,” Clarke said.
But the Panthers aren’t intimidated heading to Steubenville.
“Regardless, they have a 100-yard field, I think they wear helmets, and they put on uniforms like we do too,” Clarke said. “The stands and the fans don’t play the game so we don’t worry about that.”