Panthers show progress in loss to Maroons

By Colten Steele

The O’Fallon Panthers traveled to Belleville West on Friday night in their first Southwestern conference matchup against the Maroons. And the Panthers found themselves tallying another mark in the loss column to start the season 0-2, losing to the Maroons 47-21.

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The Panthers were off to another slow start and a scoreless first quarter for the second week in a row, while the Maroons got off to an early lead after a 39-yard touchdown run at the 7:53 mark.

“We have to figure out a way to get some better momentum in the first half in all facets of the game. We were able to have some positive plays on both sides of the ball, but we were unable to string together positive plays in bunches,” head coach Brandon Joggerst said. “Limiting the amount of negative plays offensively and the big plays on defense is where it starts.”

Obtaining any amount of momentum for the Blue and Gold wasn’t going to happen in the first quarter though, as the Maroons scored on a 48-yard pass with to go up 14-0 after the first.

Being down only two touchdowns is something Joggerst has dealt with before in his career, and the Panthers knew they weren’t out of this game just yet.

But if it was up to Belleville West, they were going to keep pouring it on the Panthers and try to hold the shutout. And that’s exactly what they did.

Jackson McCloskey helped the Maroons increase their lead early in the second quarter after a 1-yard touchdown run, that would be just one of the three scored in the second.

“Belleville West is a talented team that puts a lot of stress on your defense by running a variety of formation and sets,” Joggerst said. “A lot of the time we were in good position and one facet of our defense had a mental setback. We have to continue to work on alignment and assignment and get more physical on both sides of the ball.

One facet of the defense having a mental setback is exactly what happened before halftime as Quarterback Jackson McCloskey found his wideout Dominic Lovett from 15 and 28 yards out to end the half. Being shutout for another half was something O’Fallon didn’t want to happen again and Quarterback Christian Curtis made sure of it on an 80-yard touchdown pass to Chris Smith to put up seven points for the Blue and Gold.

“Christian had very good improvement from week one and had some positive plays. We need to continue to put in positive situations,” Joggert said.

Curtis finished the night 12/19 with over 200 yards and two touchdowns to add to his resume, but the staff knows he can be a threat on the ground too.

“Christian definitely has the ability to make something happen with the ball when the protection breaks down,” Joggerst said. “He has a good idea of what we are doing conceptually with the offense and we expect to continue to grow.”

One of the high points for the Panthers was on offense in running back Will Osuma. Osuma finished the game with 107 yards on 27 carries. The workload was a heavy one last night, but the coaching staff knows what they have in Osuma.

“Will ran the ball very well last night and made some good reads and cuts. Will is gaining confidence and we expect that to continue throughout the season,” Joggerst said.

The Panthers weren’t able to score any points again in the third quarter, but they came to life in the final quarter to finish strong. OTHS was able to score 14 points in the the fourth with one coming on a pass from Curtis to Smith for 31 yards.

O’Fallon understands that there are many facets of their game that needs worked on.

“We have to get better in areas of the game. We have to improve upon what we are doing well and fix what we are doing wrong. This is a resilient group of young men that will continue to work to improve,” Joggerst said.

The Blue and Gold will return home this week for their home-opener against Francis Howell Central (0-2) on Friday at 7PM.

“It’s always exciting playing at home,” Joggerst said. Francis Howell is a team that has scored a lot of points offensively and they have big play capability. They have an aggressive defense that tries to put a lot of pressure inside the box.”