St. Croix Central Panthers

The high hopes that the St. Croix Central football team brought into the 2021 season have gone largely unfulfilled as the Panthers head into the midpoint of their season.

The Panthers dropped to 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the Middle Border Conference when they lost at Prescott, 25-0, on Friday. The Panthers will hope to correct their course next Friday when they play at Somerset.

Central coach John Tackmann said the coaching staff is stumped on why such a team-wide lack of success is happening.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys trying to learn as they go,” he said. “Where we have experience, hopefully we can rally behind those veterans up front. Right now, we’re not getting what we need.”

Prescott scored twice in the first quarter, connecting both times on 19-yard touchdown passes. Where the game spun out of the Panthers’ control was in the span between those touchdowns. Central quarterback Ethan Boettcher threw a beautiful long pass that would have gained 50 yards or more, but it was dropped. After a Panther punt, Central’s Colin Hackbarth intercepted a long Prescott pass. But instead of building momentum off that turnover, the Panthers fumbled the ball right back to Prescott. Moments later, the Cards struck for the second touchdown pass.

Prescott needed less than two minutes to score after receiving the second half kickoff. The Cards scored on a 12-yard pass early in the fourth quarter to complete the scoring.

The work of the line on offense hasn’t been what the Panther coaches have been looking for. Boettcher has been taking crushing hits as he tries to pass from the pocket. Tackmann said that with the passing game struggling, opponents are loading the box to shut down the Panthers’ running game.

The one player who continues to stand out every game is defensive end Devin Wasley. Tackmann said opponents are running plays away from Wasley out of respect for his ability to pursue plays.

“He’s the one spark we have going on the defensive side of the ball,” Tackmann said.

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