Panthers see ‘positives’ in 46-6 loss

On paper, the score does not look particularly good.

But Rappahannock County head football coach Terrence Johnson did not allow a 46-6 season-opening loss to East Hardy (W.Va.) to dampen his enthusiasm.

“There were a lot of positives, a lot of positives that came out of this game,” Johnson said.

The first “positive” that Johnson noted was that Rappahannock County did not turn over the football.

“We preach taking care of the ball.”

In fact, the Panthers (0-1) caused a turnover. Jessie Raddie tipped a free ball during an East Hardy possession, and Aaron Oyster recovered it.

Rappahannock County ran its no-huddle offense well, Johnson added, and perhaps, the score was not indicative of the way it played.

“We got a good number of snaps. We didn’t stop the clock after every play,” he said. “We’re going to do the same thing every day, and we’re going to preach the fundamentals.”

Senior Matt Fletcher shared the quarterbacking duties with freshman Dylan Hitt, and will continue to do so, Johnson said.

While Fletcher has the edge in experience, Hitt needs to learn the offense.

Hitt was under center and called the play in which freshman fullback Billy Hogan scored on a two-yard run for the Panthers.

“Matt’s still the starter,” Johnson said, “but Dylan’s getting some experience. He’s going to play a lot for us.”

At the conclusion of the game, East Hardy head coach Chad Williams offered Rappahannock County praise and encouragement.

“He told me that this was the best coached RC program he faced,” Johnson said. “I told that to our kids, and they were so excited. You would have thought we won the game.”

The Panthers hope to rebound Saturday (7 p.m.), as they travel to Hancock, Md.

Hancock, which runs a wing-T offense, is coming off a 4-6 season. It returns five starters on each side of the line.

Junior Garrett Wiles is a three-year starter at quarterback. He tossed eight touchdowns last year, but also had 15 interceptions.

Wiles is joined in the backfield by senior tri-captain Tanner Dobrzanski, who rushed for 285 yards last season. Eli Sounders is Wiles’ favorite target. He had 28 catches and four touchdowns last year.

Senior Jarrod McCoy anchors the offensive line. He is also a three-year starter.

Dobrzanski and McCoy led the Hancock defense from their linebacking spots.

“We’re going to prepare for Hancock as if they are the No. 1 team in the nation,” Johnson said, “and we should have everyone ready to go.”

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