This one hurt. This one really hurt. It hurt from top to bottom. At the top it hurt head coach Cody Matthewson, his coaching staff, and his players; it hurt the players' parents and their siblings; it hurt the Charger student body; it hurt rabid and casual Charger fans alike; and it may have especially hurt that sixth grade boy who is just finishing up his third year in the Charger youth football program. That young boy, aspiring and dreaming to one day be a great Charger player, saw his beloved Chargers get steamrolled by an inspired and talented Panorama team 48-8 Friday night on the ACGC home turf.
So, why did this one hurt so much? First, the loss was to Panorama, without question the Chargers' biggest rival. The neighbor to the east is just seven miles away, so it is easy to understand the huge rivalry. Secondly, it continued a losing streak at the hands of the Panthers that dates back to well beyond the history of ACGC to the days when the Panthers were handling the GC Tigers. The Charger/Panther football rivalry is just two years old, as the teams did not play one another in the first two years of the ACGC merger. But it is still Panorama!
And third, Charger hopes for a playoff berth were placed in jeopardy with this second loss, as the team's RPI rating took a dip following the defeat. There is still a distinct possibility of post-season action, as a win over a quality Mt. Ayr team next week would improve the Chargers' chances of a playoff berth. More of that later, but first lets's take a look at last night's game.
On the opening kickoff the Charger receiver fumbled the ball out of bounds at the ACGC seven yard line, and things went downhill from there. After picking up eight yards on two running plays, the Chargers were called for a holding penalty (it's first of at least eleven penalties for the game) and were forced to punt. The Panthers lost little time in putting points on the board, as running back Michael Allen scored on Panorama's first play from scrimmage on a thirty four yard run. The PAT was blocked.
After picking up a first down on their second possession on runs by Gavin Cornelison and Kolby Jacobe, the Chargers fumbled the ball away to the Panthers. Panorama took the ball on its own forty six yard line and drove to pay dirt on a six play drive that included two passes from quarterback Dominic Walker to Luke South. South scored on a one yard plunge. The successful extra point made the score 13-0 at the 4:51 mark of the first stanza.
A comment was made among Charger fans that it was important the team score on its next possession. And so it was! ACGC put together a sixteen play drive that covered sixty six yards and ate up 7:30 on the clock. Cornelison took the pigskin in from the one yard line and the Chargers were on the board. A successful PAT pass from Charger quarterback Bryce Littler to Lucas Marsh made the score 13-8. It seemed that the Chargers might make a game of it.
But it was not to be. The Panorama offense shifted into high gear and scored three touchdowns in the last seven and a half minutes of the quarter. The TDs included a twelve yard run by Walker and two touchdown passes, the latter of which was very unusual. The pass was apparently caught by Drew Talyor who bobbled the ball into the hands of the Charger defender, who in turn bobbled it back into the hands of Taylor for the Panther touchdown! The Panthers went into halftime with a commanding 34-8 lead.
The scoring was completed in the third quarter as the Panthers picked up two more touchdowns that included a fifteen yard pass and a five yard run by South. Panorama threatened early in the final frame when it penetrated to the Charger ten yard line before fumbling the ball over to ACGC. The Chargers then put together a sixty seven yard drive that was aided by a fifteen yard Panther penalty. Cornelison gained thirty six yards on three carries and Littler completed a big third down pass to Marsh to keep the drive alive. The drive ended on the Panther twenty five yard line as time expired. Although Panorama deserved the win, the Chargers hurt themselves with those eleven penalties and four fumbles.
So now we are down to the final regular season game versus Mt Ayr. The Raiders will come into town with a 6-2 season record, with losses to district champion Van Meter and a 14-6 defeat at the hands of Panorama. The Chargers are faced with a challenge--not only are they facing a quality team, but any hope for a playoff spot is on the line.
There are nine class 1A districts in the state. Each district champion will be an automatic qualifier for the playoffs. With a total of sixteen teams participating in the playoffs, that means there are seven at large berths available. Who gets those spots will depend on their Rating Percentage Index (RPI). The formula that determines the RPI is as follows: (1) A team's won/loss record (2) The team's opponents' records (3) The teams opponents' opponents' records. All three of those components are expressed in a percentage.
"What?" you may ask. This observer was also baffled when first hearing of it last year. So, let's break down the Chargers RPI as of last Monday. (The RPI rankings are released every Monday after the sixth week of the season.) After last week--week seven--the Chargers had a lofty RPI of .6618 which was the seventh best RPI among the fifty four schools in class 1A. Had the regular season ended then, the Chargers would have qualified for the playoffs. The Charger 6-1 record was good for a percentage of 85.71. ACGC's opponents' records were 34 wins and 30 losses, good for 53.13%. The opponents' opponents' records were 327 wins against 252 losses, good for 56.48%. When the three percentages are averaged together, we come up with that RPI of .6618.
After last night's loss, if this non-mathematician's figuring is correct, the Chargers' RPI is now .6209. Seven of the nine projected district champions are undefeated. The other two projected district winners have RPI's lower than that of ACGC. In studying the results of last night's games, it appears that six to nine non-district champions have RPI's better than ACGC. Considering that seven non-district champions will qualify for the playoffs, it appears that the Chargers are still in the hunt for a playoff berth. We will know for sure on Monday afternoon when the new RPI's are posted on the Iowa High School Athletic Associations's website. Stay tuned!
More "Friday Night Lights" next week with Mt. Ayr and ACGC battling it out for a possible playoff spot. Go Chargers!
Score by quarter:
Panorama 13 21 14 0--48
ACGC 0 8 0 0--8
Passing: Bryce Littler: 4 attempts, 2 completions, 0 touchdowns, 1 two point conversion
Rushing: Gavin Cornelison: 21 attempts, 89 yards, 1 touchdown; Kolby Jacobe: (10-46-0);
Cayden Jensen: (3-8-0); Bryce Littler: (8-14-0
Receiving: Lucas Marsh: 2 receptions for 17 yards, 1 two point conversion reception
Tackes: Gage Buttler: 1 solo, 4 assists; Gavin Cornelison: (2-4); Charlie Crawford(1-3); Seth Danker: (4-5); Cayden Jensen: (0-1); Gunnar Larsen: (1-1); Brock Littler: (1-0); Sam madsen: (1-1); Lucas Marsh: (1-0): Nolan Wheatley (2-4); Quynton Younker: (3-5)
Fumble recoveries: Nolan Wheatley: 1 for no yards returned
Kickoffs: Charlie Crawford: 2 for average of 35 yards
Punts: Cayden Jensen: 4 for average of 29.0
Kickoff Returns: Charlie Crawford: 1 for 18 yards; Cayden Jensen: 2 for 14.5 average