Titans, Panthers prepare for district title showdown that comes a day early this week

Published 12:50 am Tuesday, November 1, 2022

With a shortened week, the Memorial football team is preparing for a showdown for the District 8-5A Division I title. The Titans and Kingwood Park Panthers are tied for first and play Thursday at Kingwood Park.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

The Titans (8-1, 6-1 in district play) are coming off a waterlogged win against Barbers Hill, which gave Memorial a guaranteed home playoff game in the first round next week.

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However, the Titans are focused on beating the Panthers and earning the No. 1 seed for the district. While the win would give the Titans their third consecutive district title, Head Coach Brian Morgan hasn’t talked about it with the players.

“Winning a district championship is enough motivation for these guys,” Morgan said. “I think that is all it takes. We are trying to show up and play well… I think it says a lot about the senior class and the guys that have played for a long time. We hadn’t talked about three in a row, but it means we have been consistent and set the standard of how we play week in and week out for multiple years. It is something good to build on.”

While Kingwood Park sits next to the Titans atop the district, they rank around the middle of the pack on offense (fourth) and defense (third). The Panthers’ main weapon is receiver Pierce Richards, who leads the district by far in receptions with 58. The next closest is 37.

Even with his high usage rate, Memorial receiver Caleb Goodie only trails Richards by 76 yards on 24 fewer catches. Goodie has also been a menace in the kick return game, scoring touchdowns on a third of his returns. He notched another one last week to give him three for the season.

The Titans face a little adversity in the scheduling. On top of the short week, Kingwood Park is coming off a bye week, giving them more time to prepare for the Titans.

“I don’t look at it as too much of a disadvantage,” Morgan said. “It is a week for us. We are not banged up. It is not like we are fighting the battle of trying to get someone healthy with less days. I see it as us trying to play well.”

Morgan added his team will have to more prepared because the Panthers had an extra week to implement plays.

“We have to be prepared to adjust in game, and our players have to adjust to anything they see,” he said.

The Titans are coming off a win that was mostly played in a downpour. Morgan said it was the most rain he has ever coached in. The conditions limited both offenses, but the coach was proud of how his team responded and added the experience gives them something to build and look back on.

“We had the ball and we knew they were going to run,” he said. “I told them the most physical team was going to win that game. Our guys did a really good job.”