After a dominating 50-17 win over Newton, the Derby Panthers (1-0) will have an early-season test with Bishop Carroll in the second game of the season.
The Golden Eagles (2-0), led by head coach Dusty Trail, will be heading to Derby aiming to leave with the program’s first win over the Panthers. In the matchup last season, the Bishop Carroll defense held the lethal Derby offense to only 35 points in a 35-21 defeat.
Bishop Carroll will be an experienced group with a total of 14 players returning from their 2020 5A sub-state finish, including senior quarterback Matthew Holthusen and senior running back Jadonn Williams.
Holthusen was one of the top quarterbacks in the Greater Wichita Athletic League last season, earning a second-team all-league selection, with Williams taking an honorable mention finish.
“They are the same team that we always play,” head coach Brandon Clark said. “They are very well-coached. Their kids go hard, and they have a good running back and quarterback that can throw, which spreads out the field with receivers that can catch the ball.”
With all of the talent in the backfield, the offensive line led by seniors Jack Spottedhorse and Maddox Marcotte will provide time and space for the Golden Eagles’ top weapons.
“Their offensive line is really good,” Clark said. “They are big, very disciplined, they control the fronts and allow their playmakers to make plays.”
The matchup to watch could be the battle in the trenches between the experienced Derby offensive line and the aggressive front of
Bishop Carroll. The Golden Eagles will have the returning six starters on defense, including four of the front seven.
“Defensively, they are very big and active up front,” Clark said. “They like to stack the box and bait you into throwing. Their defensive backs also do a good job with coverages.”
Cleaning up mental mistakes will be crucial for the Derby offense that was slightly hampered by penalties and turnovers in its opening game. It will be crucial to provide the Derby quarterbacks time to find an open target.
“We made some mental mistakes and have to block better on the perimeter,” Clark said. “We have to be able to throw the ball and get our reads quicker to give the quarterback time to throw the ball.”
The defensive backs will face a greater challenge against a quarterback that is not afraid to throw the ball.
“We have to do a better job of getting into the game plan, knowing our checks and getting to the ball quicker.”
The early challenge against a top team in the 5A realm sounds like a tough task for a team that has only had one week of live action. However, coach Clark embraces that opportunity and is focused on using it as a springboard for the rest of the season.
“It is really good because, after this game, there will be no false confidence,” Clark said. “They will expose us in all phases, and we’ll have it on film and break it down with the kids after the game. This is a state championship-caliber team. We are going to see one of the best teams in the state and what we need to improve on.”
Kickoff on Sept. 17 is slated for 7 p.m. at Panther Stadium.