August 30, 2012

State-Ranked Salisbury Stops SCR-I 39-6 in Football Season Opener

Drawing the #4 ranked team in the state on opening weekend surely can't be considered a recipe for success for a high school football team in rebuilding mode. That was the daunting task facing Scotland County on Friday night as the young Tigers traveled to Salisbury to take on Kirk Stott's powerhouse Panthers, who rank among the best in Missouri's Class 1 rankings.

Salisbury came away with the 39-6 victory, but Tigers fans caught glimpses of good things to come from a team that starts as many as four freshmen who can only improve with more experience.

SCR-I seemed undaunted by its underdog status early on, taking the opening drive and marching down field behind coach Daniel Burns's new double wing option offense that appeared to have the Panthers confused.

But a fumbled pitch cost the Tigers 15 yards and ultimately stalled the drive, which ended on downs.

Salisbury took over and put together the first scoring drive of the contest, capped off by a touchdown run by Jake Latamonder.

"We had a lot of trouble on defense," Burns said. "Their big fullback [Latamonder], we just couldn't stop him."

The senior racked up 168 yards rushing and three touchdowns on just 10 attempts.

Trailing 6-0, Scotland County committed its only turnover of the night, but it was a costly one. The Tigers fumbled a snap and gave the Panthers the ball in scoring position. Salisbury took advantage of the short field to pull ahead 12-0.

The Tigers offense again mounted a solid drive on its third possession but was unable to put any points on the board, ending the first period down by 12 points.

Salisbury put the game away in the second period with four more scores.

Salisbury dominated the contest in the trenches, where coach Burns said his team was simply outsized.

"We've lost three starters due to circumstances beyond the team's control," Burns said referring to school disciplinary suspensions. "So we simply have been forced to turn to guys that normally would be playing tight end or receiver to help fill those holes."

The Salisbury coach agreed with the assessment, noting the Panthers used a big size advantage at the line of scrimmage, giving much of the credit for the good offensive numbers to his blockers.

Stott, a SCR-I graduate, led the Panthers to a perfect regular season record in 2011 before bowing out to reigning state champs Westran in the second round of the playoffs. Salisbury looks poised to make a deeper playoff run in 2012.

Austin Wyatt quarterbacked the Panthers to an impressive offensive showing in his debut as signal caller. The senior, who moved over from receiver to take over for fellow senior Austin Francis sidelined by a pre-season injury, completed four of six passes for 66 yards and two TDs. He also ran the ball four times for 24 yards and the team's other TD.

The bulk of Salisbury's 303 total yards was put up in the first half, before Stott turned the game over to his junior varsity offense.

That was not the case on the defensive side of the ball, as the Panthers stuck with its starters the entire contest.

That didn't stop the Tigers from finally breaking through for a score, when Chris Jackson capped off a scoring drive with a short touchdown run.

"We came away from it thinking we won the second half 6-0, so that is hopefully something to build on heading into next week against Knox County," Burns said. The Eagles fell 35-0 to Marceline in their opener.

Jackson, a junior, caught four passes for 85 yards and also added 25 yards rushing. On the night, the Tigers had 168 yards of total offense. Sophomore Will McRobert had 35 yards rushing.

Junior Cordie Kigar completed five of 16 pass attempts for 93 yards in his first start at quarterback. He also added eight yards rushing.

Jed Troutman led the Tigers defense with 14 tackles on the night.

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