FOOTBALL: Pioneers tumble against Panthers in 27-6 loss

After going undefeated in non-league play, the Porterville Panthers beat the Mt. Whitney Pioneers in their first league game in the new East Yosemite League

PORTERVILLE –The Porterville Panthers welcomed the Mt. Whitney Pioneers to the East Yosemite League by beating them 27-6.

The Panthers dominated time of possession, forcing the Mt. Whitney defense to play a significant amount of the game. The Porterville defense was nearly impossible for the Pioneers to navigate around, leaving them with only one touchdown in the third quarter.

“It was really good,” Porterville head coach Keith Thompson said. “Defense played physical like we’ve been playing all season. Offense stepped up when they had to.”

The Panthers offense scored four touchdowns, three in the first half, putting the Panthers up 21-0 before the Pioneers even touched the end zone. Aside from having size on the offense, the Panthers have speed as well.

“I’m used to big guys being somewhat slow,” Mt. Whitney defensive end Axel Romero-Ortiz said. “But for them to have that speed and size was pretty good experience for me.”

When the Panthers’ defense was called on the field, they made short work of the Pioneers’ offense. They forced a punt on fourth down on nearly every drive, except for the touchdown in the third quarter. According to Mt. Whitney middle linebacker Cody Crippen, the Pioneers “didn’t have the right scheme” to handle Porterville’s defense and head coach Nathan Chamberlain echoed the sentiment.

“We didn’t play up to our potential,” Chamberlain said. “I think that the coaches failed the kids. We didn’t do a very good job to prepare them for this game.”

On the other side, for the Panthers, it seems to be about mindset. Despite signs hanging around their enthusiastic student section cheering for the team to “keep up the streak”, Thompson made sure to let his team know that they should consider their record 1-0. Those first five non-league wins were just practice for the real thing.

“Every game, the next game is the most important game,” Thompson said. “We’re starting league now so everything that happened in the past, we let go of and we’re staying focused for the next game.”

The Panthers will travel to face Redwood on Oct. 7.

“We made some mistakes, but have room to improve,” Mt. Whitney quarterback Dominic Pineda said. “We’re just looking forward to next week.”

The Pioneers will travel just down the road to play Golden West on Oct. 7

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