The great traditions of Senior Night and homecoming were combined at Friday’s Homecoming football game, where the Panthers shut out Joliet Central 49-0. Although the Panther pass game has been the mainstay since their defeat of Joliet West, the coaching staff turned to the rushing game, as the Panthers put up a season high 303 rushing yards as a team.
The ground attack was led by the senior running back Charles Coleman, who ran for 100 yards and got into the end zone three times. Although Coleman was dominant, he wasn’t the only Panther to carry for significant yardage, as Head Coach Brian Cooney spread the wealth among the backs. Three other Panther rushers got into the end zone.
The Panther defense put together yet another dominant performance, not allowing the Steelmen into the scorebook. This weeks shutout was the second in a row for the Panthers, and the fourth of the season.
The Panthers forced two picks and a fumble, including an interception in the endzone by junior Aric Nieves.
“We all work hard everyday,” Nieves said. “It just means alot to us that we can keep performing and keep shutting teams out like we are.”
After senior quarterback Noah Parker’s big performance last week against Oswego East, Parker threw for only 55 yards on five completions. The frigid temperatures led to trouble gripping the ball, so Cooney moved to the run game.
Coleman’s best touchdown run of three was a 22-yard scamper to put Oswego up 35 in the second quarter.
The final score of the half, however, was an electric 55-yard punt return touchdown by senior Dequan Hicks, which put the Panthers up 42-0 just before the half. The Panthers would go on to win 49-0.
Seniors Jamal Fomby, Markus Tillmon and Dequan Hicks all got one rushing touchdown as a part of Cooney’s effort to get the seniors involved in their final home regular season game of their careers.
“We spread it out, that was kind of the game plan going in,” Cooney said after the game.
“Everyone got their touches. It was a good win.”
The win clinched, at the very least, a shared conference title with rival OE. A win this week against Plainfield South, or an OE loss would give the Panthers the outright title.