Panthers scratched again

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Somebody had to win.

Both Southside High and Brewton’s T.R. Miller were winless in their first outings. It would be the Tigers Friday night in a 28-6 victory over the Panthers at Panther Stadium.

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Southside quarterback Xavier Mack showed he wanted it early. Mack marched the Panthers 97 yards to open the scoring on their first possession of the game. Orlando Brown took a handoff from Mack up the middle from 10 yards out with 57 seconds to play in the first. The 2-point conversion failed, and Southside led 6-0.

Afterwards the game belonged to a true freshman quarterback from Miller and a first-year starting running back. Matt Lane scored three touchdowns to lead the Tigers (1-1, 1-0 Region) over Southside for their first win of the season.

The Tigers, who have lost once in their last 17 outings, rebounded after trailing early on.

Southside Coach Chris Raymond said he saw improvement “in spots” over last week’s opening 8-6 loss to Selma High, but they were still lacking.

“We’re not playing up to our potential,” Raymond said. “We’ve got the talent. We’re just not making plays. We’re relying on one or two players to win the ball game for us. That’s not going to happen.”

Raymond said one bright spot was junior cornerback Demarious Pratt, who showed ability in pass coverage.

The Panthers fell to 0-2 on the season. They travel to Mobile next week to take on W.S. Neal.

After the game, Mack said he felt like he owed his teammates.

“I was trying to make up for last week’s mistakes, but it didn’t work out. It was there. I just don’t know what to say,” the junior quarterback said. “Now it’s day-to-day until next week. That’s in the past. I’m looking forward to next Friday.”

The Tigers currently have six state championships (1969, 1984, 1991, 1994, 2000 and 2002) and have advanced to at least the semifinals of the playoffs 15 times in the last 22 seasons.

Miller hadn’t lost a season-opening game since 1998 against Clarke County, who claimed a victory over the Tigers in their opening game last week.

Coach Jamie Riggs, who has won four state championships at Miller, said getting a win on the road after losing their opener was positive.

“It felt good. It wasn’t easy. (Southside) had a better team this year,” said Riggs, who says he is in a rebuilding year in Brewton.

One bright spot had to be his son, Will Riggs, a freshman quarterback. He took over for junior quarterback John Mathieu and led the drive that took the lead.

The younger Riggs had some help. It was the junior Lane, in his first year as a starter.

“The line was blocking,” Lane said. “This week we came and played hard. We’ve got to keep that up.”

The Panthers didn’t lie down. To open the fourth quarter, a Mack pass across the middle was tipped and intercepted.

Miller’s first play was a give to Lane, who slashed left to score from 35 yards out. That ended the scoring with 11:21 left to play in the game.