Panthers’ run defense crucial against Kewaskum

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff


THE PLYMOUTH PANTHERS celebrate with the student section after their 31-7 win over Greendale in the first round of the state football playoffs Friday night. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley THE PLYMOUTH PANTHERS celebrate with the student section after their 31-7 win over Greendale in the first round of the state football playoffs Friday night. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley PLYMOUTH – The Plymouth Panthers’ run defense and play along the front lines will be critical to their hopes of defeating Kewaskum in Friday’s Division 3 football second-round game.

The kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Kewaskum. The Indians edged PHS, 10-7, in East Central Conference play on Oct. 7. Kewaskum, Plymouth and Berlin shared the ECC title with 6-1 records. PHS, 8-2, is a No. 3 region seed and Kewaskum, 9-1, a No. 2.

In the first meeting, the Indians gouged the sturdy PHS defense for 186 yards on the ground, led by junior running back Cole Surprenant with 122. Kewaskum iced the victory with a 14-play, 72-yard drive (70 rushing) which ate up the final seven minutes of the contest.

“We will have to be more physical up front and tackle better,” said Panther head coach Dan Knaus regarding what his team needs to do to improve its rushing defense versus Kewaskum.

Knaus said the keys to the outcome of the game will come down to who controls both lines of scrimmage, taking care of the ball and special teams’ play. PHS was held to only 161 yards in total offense in the teams’ first meeting.

Kewaskum head coach Jason Piittmann offered his thoughts on what is crucial for his team to win the rematch:

“Keeping both their offense and defense off balance. They can be explosive and dominant on either or both sides,” said Piittmann.

“They are capable of playing a physical, grinding game, and they can also blow things open with big plays on both offense and defense.

“It is a very difficult task to try to beat someone twice in a season. It is even more difficult when it is a very high-quality team that is well-coached, as is the case with Plymouth,” said the Indian coach.

“They [Indians] are very versatile with their ability to run and pass the ball. They are also very sound on defense,” Knaus observed.

Both coaches agreed that this rematch is exciting for the teams, schools and fans.

“I think it will bring a little more excitement since we are conference rivals and both teams know each other,” said Knaus.

“Any match-up with Plymouth us pretty exciting. As I said before, making it a rematch in a season makes it more difficult, especially since we played each other only a few weeks ago,” said Piittmann.

Plymouth’s top rushers are running backs Cody Kuhn and Derek Novotny with 825 and 798 yards, respectively. Kuhn has a teamhigh 18 rushing touchdowns.

PHS quarterback Gavin Falk has passed for 728 yards and three TDs. Kuhn and wide receiver Alex Shutter are the top receivers with 256 and 254 yards, respectively. Kuhn leads in receptions with 25.

Surprenant leads Kewaskum in rushing with 845 yards to go with six TDs. Quarterback Dalton Poole has thrown for 1,747 yards and 17 TDs. The leading receiver is wideout Brady Hanson with 614 yards on 29 catches. Wideout Anthony Steger has a team-high 32 catches and eight TDs with 582 yards.

Both teams are fairly healthy, considering how late it is in the season.


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