The winless Paschal Panthers recorded their 10th loss and closed out their season with a 48-10 defeat at the hands of the District-leading Arlington Martin Warriors (9-1) on a chilly Thursday night at Fort Worth’s Handley Field.
The Warriors, who will be among the District 4-5A representatives in the playoffs, rested their starters for most of the game. Quarterback Brodie Lambert, who was nursing a sore back, did not even see the field.
Martin also ran a single-wing offense during the entire game to save their best plays for playoff competition. As a result, the Warriors only passed the ball eight times, accounting for the bulk of their yardage on the ground.
CLint Among the game’s top performers were backup quarterback Garrett Lane and wide receivers Eric Hughes and Chris Turner. Lane rushed 13 times for 84 yards and a touchdown and completed four of his five passes for 54 yards. Hughes had one catch and one run for 11 and 44 yards respectively and one touchdown. Turner rushed for 45 yards on eight carries and had two receptions for 27 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game with an injury.
Fourteen of Martin’s 48 points came because of fumble recoveries for touchdowns.
Despite the loss, the scoreboard was the last thing on the Panthers’ minds. Many seniors fought back tears as they came to the realization that they had just spent their last evening in a Panther uniform.
“It’s sad. I’ve been with most of these guys since middle school and it’s going to be hard to go to the next chapter,” quarterback Chris Hanson said. “I’m going to miss these guys — they mean everything to me.”
Hanson led the way for the Paschal offense as he has done all season, completing seven of 20 passes for 98 yards and finding room enough for 28 rushing yards despite a few sacks.
On Paschal’s final drive of the game, Hanson captained a 95-yard drive including two long passes to Ben Noel and Repairer Etuk. Senior running back Jamison Spearman put the exclamation point on the drive, punching in a 2-yard run to score his first touchdown of the year.
“It felt amazing to score on the top dog in the division,” Spearman said. “Best feeling I’ve ever had.”
Senior offensive lineman Nick Galindo helped create the open space Spearman used for the score. Galindo was the pulling guard on the power play and knew the moment that “J-Swag” would cross the goal line.
“Right as I hit the linebacker, I saw Spearman come up behind me and score that touchdown,” Galindo said. “Perfect way to end the season.”
Head coach Matt Cook said he was sad to see this senior class go. He spoke very highly of lineman Connor Fanning, who played both sides of the ball and rarely came out for a breath. He also praised under-sized linebackers Ben Hoyt and Henry Manning for their consistent production.
“We had over 35 seniors…[I’ll miss] the numbers and the comradery,” Cook said. “We also had great senior parents.”
All of the seniors agreed that what they would miss most about Paschal football was each other.
“I might not see some of these guys ever again. I’m just going to miss the brotherhood — seeing everybody every day and the coaches,” Fanning said.
Junior wide receiver Ben Noel said that he will also miss this senior class a great deal.
“They’re a great group of guys. It was an honor playing with them,” Noel said. “Hopefully we can turn things around and win a couple of games next year, so they can look back next year and say ‘we helped build that.”
Noel led the team in receiving this season with 33 catches for 368 yards. He caught four passes against Martin for 57 yards, including a 41-yard pass on their final scoring drive.
As the seniors move on to college and the next stage of their lives, Noel and the other classmen will begin preparing for next season. Cook said they will be going back to the drawing board.
“We’ll try to build from within, recruit the halls, and continue to build our feeder schools,” Cook said. “We’ll continue to establish our coaching staff and develop the kids that we have.”