Woodland Park Panthers Crash Manitou Homecoming Party

Wave Those “Terrible Towels;” WP Turns Into Explosive Powerhouse

Rick Langenberg

Is the Woodland Park Panthers’ winning and playoff-bound football team for real?

That question was answered loud and clear Friday night as the Panthers trashed the homecoming party of their rival down the road, the Manitou Springs Mustangs, 35-0, to net four consecutive wins and leap into the top ten of the state rankings.

Manitou Friday night was treated with the same respect as its disastrous parking system.  Good riddance, maybe a few ‘no parking” signs were tackled on the way out of town. The chanting that echoed from the Panther sidelines: “Whose house? Our house,” apparently told the story.

This Panther victory sets up a pivotal game Friday as the Panthers square off against La Junta, in a key league contest that could determine the playoff prospects for both teams.

WP Coach Chad Drummond at the beginning of the year promised a “blood, sweat and tears” approach, based on a ground and pound-style patterned somewhat after the old Pittsburgh Steelers. Some criticized this approach, which has been brutalized on social media at times. And the Panthers actually got off to a rough start, losing bad to Summit in their opener.

But fret not as a new approach sometimes takes a little time to mature. The “Terrible Towel” crowd of the old Steelers would be proud now, as the Panthers have devoured their last few opponents with the ground and pound-style of play and are reeling from a four-game winning streak. In fact, their last few victories against Mitchell, Colorado Springs Christian and Manitou have turned into absolute routs  with the Panthers edging their opponents by a, Get This: 107-0 margin. Talk about playoff fever.

On Friday’s visit to Manitou, the team was propelled by an explosive offensive second half, as neither team moved the ball well during the first half.

The Panthers tore apart the tired Mustangs’ defense in the second half, with ground assaults, led by senior running back Aiden Hernandez who had three rushing scores on the day. Hernandez also leads the team in sacks.

“We had some good blocking from the line so I was really impressed with that. First half wasn’t what I was expecting but second half we came and killed it,” Hernandez said, in comments following the game.

The Panthers came out strong in the third quarter when senior running back Caleb Graves put Woodland Park in scoring position with a key run play. Hernandez culminated the drive off with a 15-yard score.

The ground and pound approach, according to team members and leaders, is definitely working

Plus, in the last few games, the Panther defense has showed it is a terrifying power to be reckoned with.

Friday’s win was significant, as  it marked the first time in several outings the Panthers faced a tough team. Going into last week’s contest, Manitou was 3-1, the same record as the Panthers. Some insiders thought Manitou would win this contest.

In fact, the Panthers-Mustangs duel was a featured highlight on KRDO’s high school Friday night spotlight section.

Woodland Park  has moved into number the number 8 position in Colorado’s Class 2A ranking. It is currently second in their league standings, just one notch behind Florence, a team they play in two weeks.