To contend with Panthers, teams have to stop the run
By Jim Turner

Posted on November 11, 2014 11:31 PM

When Louisville Holy Cross or any other team prepares to play the Russellville Panthers, coaches’ first emphasis needs to be stopping the run. The Panthers have been a team on the run all season.

After outgaining the Kentucky Country Day Bearcats 249-142 last Friday in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs, Coach John Myers’ team has more than doubled the rushing yardage of their 11 opponents so far this season, 2,908 yards to 1,347.

The difference in the number of rushes is far less significant. RHS has stayed on the ground on 403 snaps while their opponents have been grounded 371 times.

Yet Russellville has scored 39 rushing touchdowns while giving up over 11 scores on the ground.

In a beautifully balanced attack, the Panthers feature four backs who have gained over 500 yards each on the ground. Two more have rushed for over 100 yards each.

Leading the way is senior fullback Desmon Quarles, who has rushed for 782 yards and 14 touchdowns on 117 carries, an average of 6.68 yards per carry. Not far behind is Josh Bigbee, who has picked up 661 yards and 7 scores on 77 totes, an average of 8.58. The third leading rusher is Johnny Drumgole with 542 on 50 carries, an impressive average of 10.84. And in a healthy fourth place is senior quarterback Coco Darden, who has picked up 511 yards and 6 touchdowns on 60 keepers, a mean of 8.52 yards per carry.

The other two backs who have triple figure yardage are backup quarterback Jaylin McMurry, who has accumulated 149 yards on 25 tries for almost 6 yards a carry and defensive ace Jacory Bard, who has 108 yards on 29 carries.

Other Panthers who have gained ground have included Dru West, M.J. Jones, Lee McMurry, T.K. Hampton, Tremon Morris,  Jacolbie Mason and Devin Quarles.

Russellville also has outgained opponents 968-712 yards in the air, even though 11 foes have tried 31 more passes than the Panthers. Darden has completed 35 of 78 pass attempts for 714 yards and 9 touchdowns. Jaylin McMurry is 13 of 22 for 254 yards and a pair of scores.

Lee McMurry is the leading receiver by far, having caught 22 passes for 449 yards and 4 touchdowns. Bigbee has caught 6 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown. Darden himself has caught 3 for 73 yards and a score. Jason Mitchell and Drumgole have each caught 5 for 70 yards and 66 yards, respectively, with one of Drumgole’s receptions resulting in six points. Jacob Procter, one of the team’s top players who has been injured most of the season, has made his two catches count, 61 yards and a score. Hampton has a pair of catches for 30 yards, including one for a 17-yard touchdown last week. Jones caught a pass for a 27-yard touchdown in the season opener, but that’s been his only reception of the season.

The Panthers have outscored their opponents 388-157, an average of 35-14 per game. Most of the points have come in the first half, primarily because of a running clock in the second half and Myers’ reluctance to run up scores. That margin includes a ten-fold worksheet in the first quarter, 140-14, and 113-35 in the second quarter.

Statistics are courtesy or Mark and John Brett Reynolds of WRUS radio.

Russellville and Holy Cross each have 8-3 records. The Panthers have scored just 15 more points than have Coach Todd Crumbacker’s Cougars, but Holy Cross has allowed 60 more points.

The Panthers have to stop Holy Cross’ rushing attack, too. In a 41-21 win over the same Country Day team which Logan beat 39-7 last week, Ryan Kaelin rushed for 206 yards and two scores on 15 carries while Evan Perry picked up 141 for 3 touchdowns on 15 rushes. Alec Greenwell is the quarterback.

Friday’s game will kickoff at 7 p.m. Central Time on Louisville’s southwest side. WRUS will broadcast the game live at 610 AM and on the internet.

Shown with Coach Ken Barrett in the photo top right are last week’s honorary captains, from left, Fred Atkinson, Virgil Benton, Andy Woodall, Coach Barrett, Keb Barrett, Larry Johnson, John Markham and Jimmy Smith. Photo by Donna Brown Wilkerson. 

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