The high school football season opened with a bang for Bartlett High School. The Panthers ran roughshod over the Sheffield Crusaders, defeating the out-of-town opponent 42-0.
Bartlett’s senior running back LaMarcus Young ran all over, and sometimes through, Sheffield defenders, racking up 156 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries.
Head Coach Jeff McFerran said that the team played to its strengths by giving Young a lion’s share of the touches.
“If he’s healthy, he’s going to run the ball a bunch,” McFerran said.
Quarterback J.J. Vaden also rushed for 62 yards and a touchdown, but only attempted seven passes, completing two of them for 26 yards. But that’s part of the design, said McFerran.
Although he said the team will throw the ball more as the season progresses, he knows his team’s strength lies in running the football behind the offensive line.
The Panther’s defense wasn’t too shabby either — and by “wasn’t too shabby,” that is to say, impressive.
The team only allowed 31 yards of total offense to the Crusaders and only two first downs. Bartlett also intercepted two passes on the night and returned a fumble for a touchdown.
McFerran said that the defense isn’t overly big but it’s fast, and that speed will be another team strength.
Even though the team impressed on opening night, McFerran knows work has to be done to improve, noting that the team needs to become more balanced and that there’s a lot of football against a lot of good teams to be played.
“There’s a lot of things we can do better in all three phases of the game,” he said. Bartlett will look to improve when it faces Northside High School, who was shut out by Hernando High School last week. The game will be at BHS on Friday at 7 p.m.