On Snider's first offensive play, Panthers running back Tyrell Swain bolted through the North Side defense for 23 yards.
That type of play was the story of the night for Snider, as the Panthers ground out a 17-6 Summit Athletic Conference victory at North Side. The win put the Panthers (6-0, 5-0 SAC) in the driver's seat for their first conference title since 2005.
“We aren't talking much about the Victory Bell,” Snider coach Kurt Tippmann said of the league trophy. “We're just going to talk about playing a better game next week.”
The Redskins (5-1, 3-1), and Bishop Luers (4-2, 4-1) for that matter, now have to hope that Snider stubs its toe at Bishop Dwenger (Oct. 5) or at Wayne (Oct. 12). But in the meantime, Tippmann plans on riding the horses that he has along the offensive line to more success.
Snider had three players rush for at least 70 yards, and after it took its first lead with just over eight minutes remaining in the first half, it made no secret – especially as the weather turned nasty – what it wanted to keep doing.
“That's been the bread and butter of our offense all year,” Tippmann said. “If our offensive line isn't productive, then it shuts everything else down.”
Seniors Andrew Meyers, Travis Leonard, Ruben Holcomb, Addison Dellinger and Josh Spitnale team with juniors Evan Roberts and Shane Hurt to form over 1,700 pounds of blocking that leaves gaping holes for runners Swain (87 yards rushing against North Side), Nick Reese (70 yards), and Je'norie Smith (81 yards).
“It was our focus,” Leonard said. “We had to keep focused up front and we had to keep pushing.”
The Panthers rushed for 262 yards, and when they had to have a gain, Tippmann never hesitated on the play call. Of Snider's 18 first downs gained, 15 of them happened by quarterback Brandon Phelps handing the ball off to a running back.
“After the first series, we got a few runs right off of the bat,” Meyers said. “We knew that was how we were going to win the game and the offensive line had to put it on their backs.”
The group played well, but they also were far from perfect as Meyers pointed out. Snider was called for 11 penalties, including consecutive penalties in the third quarter that took them from the Redskin 5-yard line to the 20-yard line and resulted in a 37-yard field goal by Spitnale, as opposed to the consecutive touchdown catches by Quinton Daniels that were negated by the penalties.
“With the (30-minute) rain delay, that's not an excuse, but there was a loss of concentration,” Meyers said. “We have to get better at that.”
The Panther offense averaged more than 5 yards per play against a very solid North Side defense. But particularly in short-yardage situations, the strength and size of the Snider line just overwhelmed North Side at times. The Panthers twice faced fourth-down situations, went for the first down and converted both opportunities.
“It's one of those things that it's not schematic,” Tippmann said of the line play. “It's big guys playing well and executing things fundamentally. There are not a lot of (defensive) answers for that.”