As the head coach of a football team that had yet to sample the sweet taste of victory this
season, Fairbanks High School boss Patrick Cotter had one mission in mind during practice this
“We kept preaching and preaching effort,” he said.
The message must have been heard loud and clear, because it resulted on Friday with the
Panthers clubbing Cedarville, 53-0, during a hot and humid evening.
“We saw a lot of effort tonight from top to bottom,” said Cotter. “It came from our seniors right
on down to our freshmen… it was all 36 guys.”
The effort of the offensive unit resulted in 370 total yards.
“We didn’t have any negative plays,” said Cotter. “We kept churning the ball on the ground with
multiple (eight) backs carrying it.”
The Panthers’ (1-2) ground game had so much impact that quarterback Braxton Wilhelm threw
only two passes the entire game.
The biggest kudo for the Fairbanks guys on the other side of the ball was the fact the Indians
managed a paltry 21 yards of total offense.
“We smothered them,” said Cotter. “It was absolutely a suffocating defensive effort.”
The most impressive defensive stat for the Panthers came when they held the Indians to minus
28 yards rushing on 11 carries.
Fairbanks’ defense clung to the Indians like a wet blanket and forced the visitors to punt on nine
of 11 possessions.
Two additional series by the Indians were stymied when FHS recovered a fumble and picked off
Fairbanks was successful on just about every offensive possession.
The Panthers did not suffer any turnovers and punted only twice.
Fairbanks (which will travel to Greenon on Friday) controlled the game right from the opening
period by scoring 22 points.
Running back Mason Cushman, who finished the night with 189 yards on the ground, started
the point parade by rushing 51 yards into the end zone.
A bad snap from center prevented Cade Ziegler from kicking the extra point.
Riordin Stauffer found his way into the end zone from nine-yards out.
Ziegler was right on the money with the PAT, giving Fairbanks a 13-0 lead.
The Indians had to punt from deep in their own territory on their ensuing possession.
A bad snap from center resulted in the pigskin squirting past punter Colby Cross into the end
The ball rolled out of bounds for a safety that gave FHS a 15-0 margin.
Cushman ran for a 30-yard score and Ziegler kicked the extra point as Fairbanks carried a 22-0
lead into the second quarter.
There was no let-up to Cushman’s legs during the ensuing period. He tallied TDs on runs of
seven and 50 yards.
Ziegler booted a pair of conversions and threw in a 39-yard field goal for good measure.
As such, the Panthers ran into the turn with a commanding 39-0 lead.
Since Fairbanks held a margin of more than 30 points, the running clock rule was implemented
to begin the third quarter.
After playing through 75 minutes worth of a sticky, hot first half, the third and fourth quarters
went by in rapid fashion.
Fairbanks’ final two touchdowns came during the third quarter on runs of 11 and three yards by
Ziegler’s extra points closed out the scoring.
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