BLACKFOOT – Arguably one of the hardest things a team can face is matching a team in a higher division and Snake River did just that Friday as they hosted the Preston Indians for the final game of the regular season. The Preston Indians, a 4A school came in as the favorites for this game because of the logistics around the differences in school sizes. However, the Panthers did not seem to care.
The first half would be a game of field position, as each of the teams would jockey and maneuver to try and best their opponent. Both teams would find themselves hitting the end zone only once before the halftime siren would wail sending both teams into the half with only minutes to reevaluate their game plans.
Snake River would come out of the half with the same game plan that they have used most of the year; hard knock football. The Panthers' offense sticks to the ground playing what some may think as a conservative style of offense, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The Panthers utilize their strong running game to control the clock and provide openings in their opponent's defense for big yardage gains through the air. Snake River did just this against the Indians following an interception but the Panthers defense and a go-ahead touchdown by the Indians.
Snake River faced a second and log after a short yardage gain on the ground. The quarterback dropped back to pass after fake hand-off and hit his receiver in stride for a 42-yard pick up, putting the Panthers in the red zone halfway through the third. Two rushing plays later, one option and a dive, the Panthers hit pay dirt. Coach Jeb Harrison made a gutsy call, rather than kicking the extra point, that the Panthers offense would attempt a two-point conversion. Harrison must have seen something in the Indians defense that made him confident in his decision and sent his boys out on the field to continue to carry the ball. The Panthers would run a trap play allowing their running back to hit the end zone for the conversion putting the panthers up 15-14 midway through the third quarter.
That drive would give the Panthers the confidence they would need to continue winning this game, and winning they did. The Indians would only manage to make it to the promise land once more in the game, and would fail on the point after attempt bringing their score to 20, but the Panthers would be unrelenting. Snake River would find themselves dominating both sides of the ball for the remainder of the game sliding into the end zone three more times to bring the final score 36-20 in favor of the Panthers.
The win wouldn't be the only thing celebrated on Friday night because it would also be the Panthers Senior night. Families met for a senior dinner and shared their love of their children with the Prowling Purple's fans.
Snake River placed the cherry on top of their season with the win against Preston, and finished the regular season with a 7-2 record overall and undefeated in conference play. The Panthers will find themselves battling for another State Championship this year, and it couldn't be at a better time. The team is firing on all cylinders with no signs of stopping. Each player is working to be part of the cohesive unit, and their discipline on their assignments makes them a force to be reckoned.
Snake River will be on a bye this week, because in the 3A Division, the conference champions receive a bye into the quarter finals.