Pioneer’s football team travels to West Central tonight for a showdown that could represent the Panthers’ biggest threat to their Midwest Conference supremacy since the loss at South Newton six years ago.
The Panthers have won 46 MWC games in a row and 77 out of the last 78. The only loss in the last 11 years was “the Eric Watt game,” a game in which South Newton’s talented quarterback led the Rebels to a 44-40 win over the Panthers in September, 2006.
“[The streak is] the least of our concerns,” Pioneer coach Mike Johnson said. “It’s a ballgame against a very good opponent. We’ll have to play extremely well on both sides of the ball in all facets of the game.”
West Central (8-0, 6-0 MWC) enters ranked No. 8 in Class A and is just about even with No. 4 Pioneer (7-1, 6-0) in the Sagarin Ratings.
“They’re very, very good,” Johnson said. “We haven’t seen anybody stop them. They just won at North Judson 16-8 in a ballgame in the rain.
“They’re very explosive on offense. They haven’t thrown much but when they do they’re effective. Normally when it’s completed it’s a score.”
The Trojans are led by senior quarterback Michael Hamilton, who has rushed for 1,187 yards and 15 touchdowns and passed for 404 yards and eight TDs, and senior fullback Chantz Marlatt, who has rushed for 1,079 yards and 16 TDs. Hamilton is averaging 10.5 yards per rush and Marlatt is at 11.7 yards per rush.
“Those guys have been unstoppable,” Johnson said. “They’re very, very tough to bring down. They’re elusive runners and two of the best we’ve seen in awhile.”
The Panthers are led by senior fullback Joey Miller, who has rushed for 1,306 yards and 18 touchdowns and is averaging 7.9 yards per rush. Matt Dorris has rushed for 670 yards and five TDs.