PHS football team has reason to be proud

Even though the Plymouth Panthers’ football season ended on a disappointing note with Friday’s first-round playoff upset loss to Berlin, the team and coaching staff have much to be proud of.

The PHS team and coaching staff deserve a lot of credit for what they accomplished overall. Despite losing six All-Eastern Wisconsin Conference first-team players and most of their starters to graduation off last year’s squad which won the EWC title and was a state quarterfinalist, the Panthers put together a successful season. PHS won its third straight league title with a 7-0 record for the third consecutive year and finished 8-2 overall.

“The loss [to Berlin, 21-0] puts a damper on the playoff season but these guys have a lot to be proud of during the regular season. We were not picked by anyone to be the conference champs and this group rallied to make it happen,” said Panther head coach Dan Knaus.

“I think this year’s team accomplished things that many outside of our locker room never expected.

“Many outstanding seniors from this group will be missed and I would like to thank them for their dedication and leadership for four years,” said Knaus.

Berlin was more physical and intense than PHS, plus the Panthers weren’t sharp overall as they committed key penalties and missed scoring opportunities on offense. Hopefully the PHS players who are returning next season will learn from the loss to Berlin and strive to improve in order to that next step in their level of play.

“It [playoff defeat] will be in the back of all returners’ minds – the strength and speed needed to compete with teams in the playoffs, but remember we have been a level 3 [state quarterfinalist] team the past two years. We know what this level is like. They [Berlin Indians] just were better then us on that evening,” said the coach.

“We made some mental mistakes. They played well but we didn’t execute very well,” said PHS senior wide receiver Zac Cain about the Berlin game. “We kind of shot ourselves in the foot.

“Their kids played hard and were physical at the point of contact. Their running backs ran hard and their linemen finished their blocks to the whistle.

“We missed some plays [on offense] that we normally make,” said Cain.

Despite the disappointing ending to the season, Cain said the team had fun overall this season and he’s proud of the team.

“It was disappointing to put all the work in and not go farther [in the playoffs]. We didn’t finish very well,” he said.

“It was a lot of fun [during the season]. We had a good senior year. It wasn’t the way you want to go out but we had fun. The season was good overall.”

Cain commended the coaching staff for its work and preparation.

“The coaches did a great job. They made sure we were ready. If we lose, it’s not their fault.

“They put in a lot of work. As long as we have kids who listen to the coaches, we’ll be fine,” he said.

The Plymouth football program is blessed to have such a good, experienced coaching staff. Coaching continuity is a major plus to the success of a program. Many opposing coaches have told me over the years how well-coached and well-prepared the Panther football teams are.

“I’m proud of the team. We all played hard,” added Cain.

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