If there was one thing that was evident in Derby’s 52-14 over Maize South on Oct. 22, it was that junior running back Dylan Edwards is a special talent. Edwards did just about everything offensively on his way to a six-touchdown night.
The Panthers (7-0) came out swinging just a week after trialing Maize 14-0 in a 42-41 thriller in week seven. It was clear from the opening kick that this was a business trip.
“We had a good week of practice, and I was proud of the kids,” head coach Brandon Clark said. “…Before we came out, the emphasis was to put all three phases together. Besides some kicks out of bounds, I thought all three phases won the ballgame.”
If you were late to the stadium, you probably missed the first five touchdowns by Edwards, who scored on his first five touches.
An 80-yard touchdown by Edwards on the first play from scrimmage sparked the early onslaught. Things went south quick for the Mavericks after Edwards took an 81-yard run to the house.
Let’s not forget the big boys that opened up the big plays for Edwards. Both Edwards and coach Clark gave credit to the “hoggies” in the trenches.
“Edwards is special, but he also has a special offensive line and receivers with a lot of heart that block for him,” Clark said. “The credit goes to the guy who gets into the endzone in the box score, but it takes all 11 guys to execute the play.”
“I am just blessed,” Edwards said. “My offensive line did really great, they set up the blocks, and I read them and got to the endzone.”
Edwards even got to take some snaps in the Wildcat offense, which led to a field goal. The Panther offense ran the same formation in the second quarter to score a four-yard touchdown, which capped off the night for the junior running back.
The only thing that Edwards didn’t do was record a passing attempt.
Senior Mercer Thatcher was the lone Panther not named Dylan Edwards to find the endzone.
Defensively, the starters shut down the stat rushing leader Evan Cantu and created multiple forced passes by the quarterback because of pressure.
Derby also took the AVCTL-I title with the win, but that is the least bit of hardware on their minds. It is only the beginning for a Panthers team that holds the last three state titles in its trophy case.
The focus now turns to the postseason as the Panthers begin another title defense, holding home-field advantage at the new Panther Stadium. Derby has had a dominant season, but the Panthers believe that the peak is yet to come.
“I wouldn’t say we are peaking yet,” Edwards said. “We are just getting better every week, and I feel like we get to where we need to be; that is when we’ll peak.”