EUGENE, Ore. -- Coming into this game off a loss against Sheldon High School, the Axemen were looking to pull off a win at home in an already promising season.
Looking back on the past few years, the mentality of the team has clearly changed. The Axemen have experienced a few brutal seasons and the transition of this football team will take time, but Coach Chris Miller is dedicated.
The South Medford Panthers kicked off in the first quarter with a solid return by the Axemen. But things turned negative for the Axemen quickly. Within the first five minutes South Eugene quarterback Liam Duncan threw an interception and turned the ball over to the Panthers. The Panthers capitalized and drove down the field for a touchdown, putting South Medford at 7-0 to end the first quarter.
After another touchdown by South Medford in the second quarter, the Panthers drew a personal foul penalty flag for roughing the punter. This gave the Axemen a first down. Axemen sophomore quarterback Ray Roundtree scrambled down the field and followed with a pass into the endzone to Liam Duncan. The Panthers answered the Axemen with a touch down in the last eighteen second of the second quarter, making the score Axemen 7, Panthers 19 at the half.
The considerable amount of penalties called on the Panthers seemed to make no difference to their momentum. After a few injury scares in the third quarter, it was up to Ray Roundtree to keep the Axemen in the game. But it seemed South Eugene could not derail the Panthers' drive and the score at the end of the third quarter was Panthers 26, South Eugene 7. Coach Chris Miller continued to rally the players through the fourth quarter and remained positive.
South Eugene's offense managed to pick up yards through the last quarter and kept the Panthers on their toes. The Panthers managed another long run for another touchdown, making the final score Panthers 32, Axemen 7.
The Axemen were hurt by injuries and an inability to stop the running game. Panther fullback Anthony Gomez managed to rack up 160 yards in just six carries.
At the end of the game, the Axemen huddled with fans and family to listen to their coaches sum up the situation. Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Kevin Leonard said, "There are going to be some bumps here in the road, but they are not mountains. Everything here is fixable and we have a long way to go."
It takes time to build a new team and the coaching staff acknowledged it. Despite having a record now of 2-2, they are making progress. Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator Chris Miller closed the night saying, "We are a recovering team, but this is real football. And so we have to find a way to go back and work."
South Eugene Axemen travel to Roseburg next week. Kickoff is 7 pm.