Charles City’s youth, inexperience factor into home-opening loss to Arcadia
Graduating 12 players from a team of 16 players last year, Charles City’s Panthers’ football team is in a complete rebuild. With 11 new players who have minimal experience on the gridiron, Charles City Head Coach Sherod Jones knows his teams would take some bumps, such as Friday night’s home opening contest.
After being within striking distance for a quarter-and-a-half, the visiting Arcadia Firebirds scorched the Panthers as they scored the final 41 points in the game to win 49-6 in the non-district contest.
Charles City got their first big break of the contest on Arcadia’s opening drive, as Firebird signal caller Bradley Hall fumbled the ball as the visitors were driving for the score, that was recovered by the Panthers. But on the next play, Charles City running back Messiyah Greene was tackled in the end zone, resulting in a safety and an Arcadia 2-0 lead. On the free kick drive, Arcadia’s Jacob Hall would plunge into the end zone to up the visitors’ advantage 8-0.
Charles City’s best drive began at the end of the first quarter. A facemask and personal foul by the visitors pushed the Panthers deep into Firebird territory. After Charles City quarterback Taylor Bey converted a fourth-and-six on the ground, Greene plunged into the end zone at the top of the second frame for the Panthers touchdown, cutting the guests’ lead down to two (8-6).
But from there, it would be all Arcadia. On the Firebirds next drive, Ron Rico Bugg would carry the ball seven years for the score. After Charles City fumbled near midfield on the next play, Bugg took the handoff on the next play for 48 yards, touching the pylon with the ball for a score and upping Arcadia’s advantage to 22-6.
On the next series, Bey’s pass attempt would be intercepted by Firebird defensive back Shawn Rodgers, who returned it deep into the Panthers territory. Jacob Hall would find a seam up the middle of the field and score, providing the visitors a 28-6 lead at the break.
The breaking point for the Panthers came at the beginning of the third quarter. A punt by Damian Barnes Jr. fell short and into the hands of Ethan Swift. Swift protected the ball and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown, upping the score to 36-6. Arcadia would add two late scores to finalize the gap of victory.
After the game, Jones acknowledged that his team was young, but was openly displeased by the behavior of the visitors who refused to shake hands and made gestures towards the Panthers.
“They were up by 40 late and kept throwing the ball after the game,” he said. “They didn’t shake our hands, which is fine. But we have a community that stands behind us, but that’s just bad sportsmanship and they were only following their coach.”
As far as the game is concerned, Jones knows his team will take lumps, but knows the positive days are coming.
“We have a lot of players that should be on JV (junior varsity),” he said, noting how many of his roster of 15 are underclassmen. “But these kids fought, and we know that we will play them again so the kids will have this game circled on their calendar. We have class on their side and win or lose, we are going to do things the Charles City way, which is with dignity and class.”
Charles City falls to 0-2 on the season.