By Jimmy Stinson
STIGLER – If rankings mean anything, the Stigler Panthers’ football season should have been over after Friday night’s game.
Fortunately for the Panthers, they do not pay attention to rankings.
The Berryhill Chiefs came in ranked No. 6 in Class 3A, but left Stigler on the losing end of a 42-21 Class 3A second-round playoff game. Stigler advances to the next round to face Kingfisher.
With a steady dose of the dynamic duo of the Panthers (10-2), the Chiefs had no answers. Quarterback Cade Shearwood rushed for a game-high 181 yards on 19 carries and three touchdowns. Running back Seth Sandlin added 114 yards on 16 carries and a score.
“We’ve been sharp since we got healthy and our kids are understanding our scheme,” said Stigler coach Chris Risenhoover. “He’s (Shearwood) always had that running ability and played real smart with the football. He had that one pick but that wasn’t his fault.”
Berryhill (10-2) won the toss and opted to receive the opening kick, but was unable to handle the ball and Stigler found themselves starting at the Chiefs’ 37 yard line. Five plays later, Shearwood found the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown and with the extra point, the Panthers were up 7-0. Berryhill answered on their next possession with a 12-play, 63-yard drive when quarterback Zack Jackson found Trevor Pierce for a 17-yard touchdown and with the kick knotted the score at 7-7.
Stigler answered back quickly covering 70 yards in two plays, the final play saw Shearwood scampering 65 yards for the score.
“We didn’t know what we were going to be able to do against their defense,” Shearwood said. “We practiced well all week.”
With Stigler’s lead at 14-7, the Panthers’ defense added a score. Ryan Echelle picked off a Jackson pass and rumbled 65 yards down the far sideline for the touchdown.
“I just read it, I don’t know how to explain it,” Echelle said. “I got some good blocking downfield.”
The Panthers received the second-half kick and put together a nine-play, 60-yard drive that ended in a Shearwood one-yard run and the lead grew to 35-14. Berryhill put together one last drive and reached the Panthers 19-yard line, but Stigler’s defense rose to the occasion and held the Chiefs to negative yards and forced a turnover on downs.
Stigler put the final nail in the coffin on a 35-yard pass and toss from Daniel Carroll to Colton Shearwood. Cade Shearwood lateraled to Carroll, who found Colton Shearwood wide open for the score. Cade Shearwood finished the night with seven completions on 11 attempts and one interception.
After back-to-back home wins, Stigler will travel to Kingfisher next week.
“I know they are big and physical and we will have to be ready to play,” said Risenhoover.