(Creston) -- The Creston/Orient-Macksburg football team passed their first two tests with flying colors.
The KMAland 3A/4A No. 4 Panthers (2-0) followed a 42-0 shutout of Chariton with a 35-13 takedown of Atlantic.
“We feel really good where we’re at as a football team,” Panthers Head Coach Brian Morrison told KMA Sports. “Our kids are excited. Last year, we had some growing pains with some younger kids playing for the first time on Friday nights. This year, those kids are back with varsity experience.”
Among those is their outstanding senior quarterback Eli Loudon, who has thrown for 625 yards and seven touchdowns, including 330 of those yards and four of those scores to 6-foot-3 junior receiver Cael Kralik.
In the win over Atlantic, the Panthers even found a solid running game. Led by senior Rylan Luther’s 144 yards and a touchdown on just nine carries, Creston/O-M had 240 yards on the ground.
“Even the first game, our rushing and passing attempts were pretty equal,” Morrison said. “We’re continually working upfront and getting better upfront. We were more effective against Atlantic, and I think our offensive staff does a nice job of game-planning of what we can be successful with every week against different opponents.”
Defensively, Coach Morrison’s unit has allowed just 13 total points in the two games with the highlight being their shutout of a state-ranked Chariton team. Luther leads the team with 12.5 tackles while Andy Mills and Jackson Kinsella have two solo tackles for loss each. The Panthers have also forced four turnovers – an interception and three fumble recoveries.
“I think our front eight has played really well,” Morrison said. “We had a big test against Chariton. Our concern was stopping the run, and we did an outstanding job doing that. Atlantic has some explosive players, especially the (Tyler) Moen kid. Aside from one play, I thought we played pretty well in the tackle box. We’ll definitely need to continue doing that.”
Another test awaits the Panthers this week with Carlisle set to welcome then in. Last year, Creston/O-M suffered a 36-7 loss to the Wildcats, who are currently 1-1 with a recent 13-3 loss to Lewis Central.
“It’s just a good football program,” Morrison said. “Defensively, they showed they’re a good football team on film. Offensively, the quarterback runs the ball effectively, and they’re physical upfront. It’ll be the best team we’ve seen to date, and we’ll have a huge challenge in front of us.”
Todd Jacobson will provide reports for KMA Sports on Friday during the Red Oak Chrysler Football Connection Show. Listen to the complete interview with Coach Morrison below.