Panthers to play most vital game of regular season tonight
By Jim Turner

Posted on October 23, 2015 2:20 PM

While the Russellville Panthers’ fans put area importance on winning games with Franklin-Simpson and Logan County and while the loss to Murray was disturbing, unquestionably the most important game of the regular season for Coach John Myers’ team comes Friday at Crittenden County.

With Mayfield no longer in Class A, Crittenden County is the only legitimate threat to the Panthers among small school in the western end of the state. The only other two teams in their district, Fulton County and Fulton City, are no match for RHS, as shown by the Black and Gold’s wins of 66-8 and 70-24.

The Panthers (7-1) are Kentucky’s highest scoring team in Class 1A with 390 points in eight games, an average of 48.8 points an outing. According to the Voice of the Panthers, John Brett Reynolds, this is the most points Russellville has scored through eight games in the John Myers-coaching era. The 70 points in last week’s game constitute the highest total in a game while Myers has been the coach. This is Myers’ 13th season as the bench boss at Rhea Stadium.

According to R Club leader Greg Owens, Myers is five wins from the 100-mark in these 13 seasons. And he computes that Russellville is just five wins from recording 500 victories since the school began playing football 80 years ago on Sept. 12, 1935.

This win is important in its own right without the historic aspects.]

Not only would a win tonight give RHS its first district regular season championship in five years, but it would guarantee the Panthers home field advantage up until the state finals in Bowling Green. Since Russellville is in Region 1, District 1, and 2015 is an odd year, they could spend their November weekends at Ken Barrett Field at Rhea Stadium.

Beating the Rockets will not be easy. Crittenden County is a highly respectable 6-2 on the season. The losses for Coach Al Starnes’ team are to Caldwell County and Union County, both larger schools. One of Russellville’s longest-running opponents, Crittenden County is averaging over 35 points a game.

The Panthers’ ground game is overwhelming. They are averaging over 350 yards per game rushing and have run for 40 touchdowns, an average of five per game. “Total rushing yards is highest through eight games and surpasses total rushing yards of four teams since 2008,” says Reynolds.

Senior Josh Bigbee has run for over a thousand yards and 12 touchdowns on 73 carries. He reach 1,000 faster than any other back in the Myers Era.

M.J. Jones has 741 yards and another dozen touchdowns in just 48 totes. Dru West had totaled 306 yards and three touchdowns on 67 carries. In just four games, Johnny Drumgole has added 262 yards and four scores on 20 carries, an average of over 13 yards per carry. Quarterback Jaylin McMurry had 169 yards on the ground in 28 attempts.

Also rushing for positive yards have been Damon Hales, Jacob Naylor, Devon Quarles, Jacolbe Mason, Edward Barber, Daniel Suiter, Deshawn Mason and Bryson Thomas.

McMurry has completed 16 of 26 pass attempts for 361 yards and nine touchdowns. Jacob Naylor has thrown the only other pass of the season. He completed it to T.K. Hampton for a 12-yard touchdown.

Jason Mitchell has caught seven passes for yards and four touchdowns. Jones caught three passes, all for touchdowns and a total of 50 yards. Jordan Blick has pulled down two passes for big statistics—61 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Bigbee has caught two passes for 39 yards.

Milam Watkins has been a consistent scorer as the extra point kicker, connecting on 35 of 40 tries.  Hunter McDowell is one of three on conversions.

Caleb Hardison is the defensive leader with 38 tackles, 26 of them primary. Mason Aguirre has 32 tackles, 21 of them primary. All but five of Javeren Robey’s 30 tackles are primary. Trey Matthews, who was honored for academics recently by Western Kentucky University, has 27 total hits, 19 of them primary. Jones has 29 hits, 20 of them primary, while Hampton not only has 27 tackles but six of them are tackles for a loss.

Others with at least 15 tackles are Truston Clayton, Jordan Blick, Drumgole, Mitchell and Bigbee. Mitchell has intercepted three passes and Bigbee has recovered three fumbles.

Reynolds and Alex Watkins will broadcast the game over WRUS with the Countdown to Kickoff set for 6:30 p.m.


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