Panthers limit Lanphier

Bryan Veginski
On the move:?Drew Schlink, a Washington junior, runs on a quarterback keeper in the second quarter Friday during the football team’s 28-7 victory at Babcook Field over Springfield Lanphier on the opening night of the season.

Washington used a balanced attack Friday to defeat the Springfield Lanphier football team.

The Panthers, who were ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press Class 5A preseason poll, shut out the Lions in the first half on the way to a 28-7 victory in a non-conference meeting at Babcook Field.

Cody Meeks crossed the 100-yard barrier on the ground and three different players reached the end zone for Washington.

The Panthers had a few first-game jitters, but played well enough overall to win their fourth consecutive opener under head coach Darrell Crouch.

“We realized the mistakes we made ... I thought our conditioning really showed in the second half,” said Crouch.

Drew Schlink ran for nearly 90 yards and threw for more than 50, including a two-yard touchdown pass to Chase Catton that gave Washington a 14-0 halftime cushion.

It was the first varsity start for the junior quarterback Schlink.

“Mainly just the speed,” said Schlink of the primary surprise of the first game. “The speed’s a little different than practice — much faster.”

Classmate Marshall Escue also played in the QB role and completed eight passes.

“They both had some good series tonight,” Crouch said. “I thought they both handled themselves pretty well.”

Colton Underwood, who compiled 67 rushing yards, got the Panthers going in the first quarter with a two-yard run to pay dirt.

Lanphier returned a kickoff 85 yards for a TD, but the Lions did not score again.

Schlink kept the pigskin and gave Washington a 20-7 lead in the third quarter.

Later in the period, it was 28-7 after an Underwood 17-yard romp crossed the goal line. Schlink’s two-point run set the final score.

Five different Panthers made catches, and the defense yielded less than 100 yards to the Lanphier offense.

This week, Washington gears up for its game at defending 5A state champion Metamora, which dispatched Riverside-Brookfield and its A-11 offense Friday.

Steve Daggs contributed to this story