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Shenandoah-Knightstown Showdown Could be Game of Year
September 24, 2008 - A lot will be on the line Friday night when the Shenandoah Raiders and the Knightstown Panthers clash on the football field. It is Homecoming at KHS, and the winner of this game will take a huge step toward a White River Athletic Conference crown.
The two teams have been battling it out on the gridiron since 1973, when the Panthers spanked the Raiders 37-12 and both teams were members of the Big Blue River Athletic Conference. Knightstown shellacked Shenandoah throughout the 1970s by scores of 39-0 and 46-8 before the Raider program finally caught up in the 1980s.
More recently, the two teams have become rivals in every sport. On the gridiron, the two teams have matched up pretty well over last 20 years, making this one of the most balanced rivalries on the Panther scheduled. Over the last 15 years, the teams have split 16 games right down the middle.
The home team has not fared well in the series. The last team to win on its home field in this rivalry was the Raiders, who won 14-6 in 2001. Knightstown’s last home field win over the Raiders occurred in 1996. Although Knightstown has won six of the last seven games at Shenandoah, the Panthers have lost five straight home games to the Raiders.
Knightstown won there last year 14-6, and Shenandoah took the win here in 2006, 24-13. The Raiders are 4-1 this season, while the Panthers are 3-2 and winners of three straight.
In competition against similar opponents, both teams have hammered Wes-Del. The Panthers won over the Warriors 46-6 and the Raiders spanked Wes-Del 56-6. Both teams have also lost to Centerville. Knightstown fell to the Bulldogs 21-18 in the season opener. Shenandoah was whipped by Centerville 27-7, although they played that game without their starting quarterback.
Zack York suffered a sprained foot in the season opener against Tri High, a 34-14 win. He was given a clean bill of health last week and led the Raiders to an eyebrow-raising 38-7 win over Lapel. York completed 8-of-14 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns, and also rushed for 40 yards.
The Raiders run an offense very similar to what Knightstown employs.
“Their offensive strengths are very similar to ours,” Panther coach Bob Prescott said. “Both of us like to run the triple option and I think they probably use more counter plays than we do. I believe our skill people match up well, so the game will probably come down to who wins the battle up front.”
Like most of the rest of the Panther schedule this season, Shenandoah features a couple of 300-pound linemen and will outweigh Knightstown at every position in the trenches. That has been the case in every game this year, and has had little impact on the outcome.
“We really don’t even talk about that any more,” Prescott said. “Our guys up front understand that they can play against bigger guys. We want to try to wear down those bigger guys as the game goes on.”
Luke Hamm has rushed for 581 yards and seven touchdowns to lead the Raider ground game. He had 67 yards against Lapel last week. Another speedster out of the backfield is Tyler Pugsley, who had two rushing touchdowns in the first half last week. Pugsley had a 19-yard run and York also ran a 29-yard jaunt for paydirt.
The Raiders held Lapel to just 54 yards of offense in the first half and led 26-0 on their way to the easy win over a Bulldog team that had entered the game with a 3-1 record. Shenandoah’s margin of victory over was nearly identical to second-ranked Class 2A’s Heritage Christian, who beat the Bulldogs 37-6.
York likes to throw the ball to Cory Criswell and Zach Cole, who both caught long TD passes against the Bulldogs.
On the year the Raiders have outscored their opponents 169-54, averaging 34 points per game and allowing about 11. Knightstown has outscored its opposition by a margin of 157-47, scoring 31 points and giving up about 9.5.
Knightstown’s all-purpose player Levi Blair, who has missed the last two games, underwent successful surgery last week and has been lost for the season. Blair said he hopes through rehabilitation that he will be ready for baseball season this spring.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Panther Stadium.
2007 – KHS 14, SHS 6
2006 – SHS 24, KHS 13
2005 – KHS 44 SHS 13
*KHS 41, SHS 0
2004 – SHS 28, KHS 7
2003 – KHS 12, SHS 0
2002 – SHS 21, KHS 14
2001 – SHS 14, KHS 8
2000 – SHS 36, KHS 6
1999 – KHS 14, SHS 0
1998 – SHS 28, KHS 6
1997 – KHS 49, SHS 0
1996 – KHS 20, SHS 0
1995 – SHS 14, KHS 12
1994 – KHS 28, SHS 7
*denotes tourney game
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