Bloody Friday! Woodland Park Wins Home Opener in Brutal Pigskin Duel Against Salida

Photo by Paul Magnuson

Late-Game Offensive Gamble Pays Off for Panthers

Trevor Phipps

Last Friday, the Woodland Park Panthers came out on top in one of the most brutal high school football games ever witnessed.

There were massive hits that could be heard from way across the field. In addition, huge turnovers ruled the game and the winner was decided in a close late-game bout by a single point.

In the end, Panther fans celebrated the hard-earned 22-21 victory their home team earned in the game’s final minutes. The victor of the match boiled down to a decision made by the Panther coaching staff to go for a two-point conversion when trailing by a point after a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The gamble turned out well for the Panthers as the Salida Spartans failed to answer the score, leading the Woodland Park team to a victory during their first game on home turf. The Panthers redeemed themselves after a loss in their first match of the season against the tough Summit Tigers by 17-0, giving the team a 1-1 record to start the 2022 season.

In the beginning of the contest, it was evident that the Panther defense was going to dominate the game. In the first half, the Panther defense forced two fumbles.

The team was able to take one of the fumbles down the field and eventually  succeed in converting for their first score. Sophomore full back Aidan Hood put the Panthers on the score board for the first time with a short run.

After the first offensive score the Panther D continued to dominate the game. The team’s defense stopped the Spartans from getting anywhere on one drive and forced a fourth down deep in Spartan territory.

When Salida dropped back to punt it away, the Panthers almost instantly broke through the line and rushed the punter. The Panthers ended up blocking the punt and recovering in the end zone for another six points.

The Panthers took a good lead in the first half, but the Spartans were not giving up as they showed that they still had fight left in them. The Spartans first touchdown and a failed two point conversion left them trailing 14-6.

But then after halftime, it seemed as if the Panther team ran out of steam a bit. The Spartan offense gained some momentum and they tied the score at 14 with a touchdown and two point conversion.

At this point the game was tied up in the third quarter and the Panther offense had a tough time getting down the field and picking up first downs. A couple of punts gave the Spartan offense more momentum.

The Spartans were then able to formulate a huge drive and get down into Panther territory once again. Salida scored a TD and kicked an extra point making the score 21-14.

After Salida’s last score, the two teams both punted before the Panthers got the ball back late in the fourth quarter. During the team’s last possession, it was clear that they were determined to get in the end zone again before the clock ran out.

The Panther offense made some big plays but mainly kept moving down the field with consistent, short running plays. The team drove the ball down the field and got close enough for a first and goal.

Junior starting quarterback Bryce Broeker scored for the team again when he scrambled for the end zone late in the game. Now the Panthers were down 20-21 with little time left on the clock and a big decision to make.

But instead of bringing out the kicking team to tie the game, the Panthers brought their offense back out to the field prompting a time out from Salida. The Panther offense then crossed the goal line for two points making the score 22-21.

The Spartans were briefly back on the field but they didn’t have enough time left to score again. It was then official that the Panthers had skirted into their first victory of the season by a single point made by a confident coaching decision during the game’s last minutes.

During the Panthers’ first two games it has become evident that their defense is an absolute powerhouse. The team held Summit and their top-notch quarterback to only 17 points and kept the versatile Spartan offense from winning the game.

If the Panther defense can stay tough and keep forcing turnovers, their offense should be able to enhance their ability to take advantage of them and score. The team’s defense should shine this week as they play their second home game in a row.

This Friday, the Panthers challenge the 0-2 Mitchell Marauders on their home field. Statistically, the Panthers have a major advantage as the Marauders have lost their first two matches by brutal blowouts.