Berwick (0-4, 0-1 District 9-3A) is in rebuilding mode under first-year coach Craig Brodie while Patterson (3-0, 1-0) is the second-ranked team in the state.
“When you play a team of Patterson’s caliber when you’re rebuilding, all you can do is compete,” Brodie said. “These types of games will make us a better football team in the future; the kids know what they’re up against.”
The Panthers jumped out to a 12-0 lead against Erath in the district opener last Thursday, but the Bobcats regrouped to score 33 unanswered points for a 33-12 win.
“I think the kids are in a good state of mind after the Erath loss,” Brodie said. “They realized that they can compete in the district. We played pretty well until it got away from us late.”
Berwick took advantage of a long opening kickoff return with a 6-yard touchdown run by quarterback Reed Leonard to take a 6-0 lead on the first play from scrimmage.
After Erath went three-and-out on its next possession, the Panthers went with some trickery. On the first play of the drive, Leonard handed off to receiver Matt Skelton, who pitched back to Bobby Boudreaux. Boudreaux let loose with a half back pass and found a wide open Brad Lemoine downfield. Lemoine cruised in for a 54-yard touchdown and a 12-0 Panthers lead with 9:44 left in the first quarter.
“All of that experience is good for our young team,” Brodie said. “The scoreboard may not reflect it, but I see improvement every week.”
Berwick’s team is so young that many of the varsity players also play junior varsity.
“Those two games a week can only help us,” Brodie said. “When you play as many freshmen and sophomores as we do, game experience is very important.”
Leonard has completed 17-of-59 passes for 179 yards with two touchdowns and six interceptions.
Junior Josh Engleton is the Panthers’ top receiver with seven receptions for 98 yards while Lemoine has three catches for 106 yards and two scores. Leonard is also the team’s leading rusher with 32 yards.
Patterson comes into today’s game after a lackluster performance in their district opener. The ’Jacks manhandled North Vermilion, 35-11, but they started slowly. The high-octane ’Jacks’ offense put up just 14 points in the first half before finding its footing.
“We have to play up to our standard,” Patterson coach Tommy Minton said. “And when we don’t play to that standard, the players and the coaches have to answer for it.”
Needless to say, Minton took the team to task this week in practice.
“We got back to the basics,” he said. “We got back to a good tempo and that made for a better week of practice.”
Running back Trevon Stewart had a big game running the ball last week. The University of Houston commitment had a career-high 202 yards on just 10 carries with three scores.
That’s an average of 20.2 yards per carry. His touchdowns were 30-, 42- and 54-yards.
Standout quarterback Justice Jones was 16-of-26 passing for 170 yards with two touchdowns. Jones, an all-state selection last season, has completed 44-of-82 passes for 671 yards and nine scores. The senior is completing nearly 54 percent of his passes.
Jones’ top target continues to be wide receiver Jaydrick Declouet. The senior, now a Houston commitment, has 23 receptions for 295 yards and seven touchdowns.
Patterson is averaging 229 yards passing per game and 191 yards rushing.
“We want to be balanced this week,” Minton said. “We ran the ball better last week and I want to see us do it again.”
Running back Mark Jones has a sprained ankle and will be a game-time decision.
“I think Patterson has a better team than last year,” Brodie said. “All we can do against a team like that is play our best.”
Patterson was the state runners-up in Class 3A last season.
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.