The Student News Site of Derby High School

Panther's Tale

The Student News Site of Derby High School

Panther's Tale

The Student News Site of Derby High School

Panther's Tale

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One of the hardest roads for Derby in the coach Brandon Clark-era doesn’t seem to matter for the team. They battled through some tough times but pulled through, ending up in the Class 6A title game once again. The semifinal game was a one-point win and the quarterfinal was a two-point win. 

The leg of kicker Grady Jesseph came in clutch two weeks in a row. He hit a go-ahead field goal to go up two against Manhattan followed by a defensive stop, and in the semifinal, he stepped and a field goal with no time remaining to send the team to their ninth state title game in the last 11 years. 

“(I) block out distractions and focus on the goal posts,” Jesseph said. “I feel confident in myself and in my team. If I need to step up and do my part again.” 

Jesseph missed a kick with 1:49 left in the semifinal, but thanks to the defense and a shanked punt by the Washburn Rural punter, he got another shot, a redemption chance. 

“There wasn’t much difference between the one I made and the one I missed, the only thing was one could’ve ended the season and one sent us to the state championship,” Jesseph said. 

The other side of the bracket was taken by the Gardner-Edgerton Trailblazers. They were the one seed on the East side. 

Gardner-Edgerton runs a flex-bone offense which makes it tough for the Panthers defensive line. A flex-bone offense is a run-heavy offense with a more compact formation. Usually being two or three blockers to one defensive lineman. And sometimes they put a half back in the game to act as an extra blocker. 

“For my position flex-bone is the worst thing to go against,” sophomore nose guard Houston Bowlin said. “I don’t know what it’s like yet. I’ve never gone up against it so we’ll see what I need to do.”

This offense should play toward the Panthers’ strengths. In the semifinal against Washburn Rural, the defense got a big stop at the goal line after the special teams gave up a big return. It was first and goal at the 3 yard line, but Washburn Rural turned it over on downs. 

When an offense runs a flex-bone the safeties are in spots called wing backs.

“In flex-bone, as a safety, we are in charge of the wing backs, we get told essentially every play what to do,” junior Easton Splane said.

The Panthers have played two teams who run flex-bone offenses but none as good nor as big as the Gardner offense. 


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