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 Panthers, Lapel Playing for WRAC Championship on Senior Night

October 3, 2007 - Unlike last season, when advanced math was required to determine the White River Athletic Conference champion, the title will come down to what happens on the Knightstown High School football field Friday night.

A Knightstown victory brings the WRAC crown back to Panther Stadium. A Lapel win will likely give the Bulldogs their second straight conference title.

The Bulldogs are 2-0 in WRAC play, with Friday’s game against the Panthers and the season finale against Wes-Del still to be played. A Knightstown win will clinch the championship for the Panthers regardless of what Lapel does the following week. The Panthers are 2-1 in the WRAC.

“I think the game will come down to defensive execution for us, including tackling,” Knightstown Coach Bob Prescott said. “Turnovers will also have a big impact. We have confidence that Levi (Blair), Travis (Titus) and Lane (Fields) are learning to get the job done. Brice (Biehl) is learning to read the option better, and hopefully he’ll continue to get better.”

Those four players have had to step up into starting varsity roles with the loss of Joe Haase and Trey McColley. Although they haven’t lit up the scoreboard with points, they have come together to lead last-minute game-winning scoring drives in the last two contests.

Friday night the 1997 Panthers, of the greatest Knightstown High School football teams in history, will be honored on the 10th anniversary of their historic run to the RCA Dome. The game is also senior night, and a large crowd is expected. A win would send everyone home happy, and also secure the second WRAC crown in three years for KHS.

But it’s not going to be an easy task.

“Lapel is very big up front and they’ve got some very strong running backs,” Prescott said. “They like to run a double-tight end set with three backs and just hammer the ball. They’ll also go into an I-formation and do some play-action passing, and they like to be physical. It’s not going to be all that different from the last two weeks with Shenandoah and Tri.

“We’ve been out-manned in size and height,” Prescott continued, “but if our defense brings it and executes, they should give us an opportunity to be in the game.”

Over the last 10 seasons Lapel and Knightstown have split, 5-5, but KHS has lost four of the last five games, including 29-0 last season. In the early days of the rivalry, Knightstown regularly pasted the Bulldogs, winning by margins of 35-0 in 1994, 48-0 in 1997 and 54-14 in 1999. Those days are long over. While the Panther defense will be called upon to turn in another stellar performance, the will face a Bulldog defense that hasn’t had that much success recently.

In their last two games the Bulldogs have given up 119 points, about the same number the Panthers have allowed in seven games. They lost to Guerin Catholic 56-55 in overtime, and fell last week to Clinton Prairie 63-26. For the season, they have allowed 250 points in seven games, or 37 points per outing. Knightstown, meanwhile, has held its last two opponents to six points apiece, and has given up 120 points on the season (17 ppg.). But the Panthers have put up just 87 points (12.4 ppg.).

In common opponents, the Bulldogs beat Eastern Hancock 33-27 in overtime one week before Knightstown lost to the Royals 20-6. The Bulldogs beat Shenandoah 20-0, and Knightstown edged the Raiders 14-6. The other common opponent is Wes-Del. The Panthers beat them 34-12 and Lapel finishes the regular season against the Warriors.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.


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