Panthers hope to reignite ground game for playoff push
Lack of rushing success has slowed team's attack
- Piedra Vista has two regular-season games left to figure out how to fix its ailing running game.
- The Panther rushing attack was at its best in a victory over Goddard in the second week of the season.
- PV is on the road Friday for a 7 p.m. contest at Volcano Vista.
FARMINGTON — Piedra Vista running backs have had some trouble squeezing through creases in the line of scrimmage over the last few weeks, which is putting a bit more stress on the team's passing game to keep drives going.
With two games left in the regular season and a possible 6A playoff berth hanging in the balance, the Panthers are convinced they can prolong possessions if they can do more damage on the ground again.
"Ultimately, if we can control the ball on the ground, move the ball and start winning field positions, that plays in our favor," coach Jared Howell said. "The entire game will flow better for us."
PV (4-4, 1-1) has had its moments this season, particularly its victory over Goddard in the second week, when its running backs quickly found and reached gaps and generated some sizable gains.
The Panthers are still punching out lots 3- and 4-yard gains, but they are struggling lately to break free and move deeper down the field on a consistent basis.
"The creases are harder to open (in 6A), and they're open for half as long. It's just tough, tough sledding," Howell said. "We've got to be able to move the ball. Every now and then, we might be able to get that big, explosive play. But if we can move it and grind it, then we're being successful."
That's forced quarterback Cameron Schwartz and his wide receiver corps to ratchet up the passing attack because such troubles running the ball are creating less-than-satisfactory field position.
"It's sometimes hard to find the hole in 6A, whenever those holes close fast," Schwartz said. "(We're) just still working on our blocking schemes, working on hitting that crease harder, faster, quicker. That's one thing we always try to work on, is have better vision and just be more aware."
One silver lining remaining in what's left of this season is that there's still time for PV to reignite its ground game and squeeze its way into the 6A playoffs.
The Panthers have two regular-season games remaining, starting with a trip to district foe Volcano Vista at 7 p.m. Friday.
"I definitely think if the run game opens up, that'll definitely help our passing game," Schwartz said. "We're good at running the ball. If we can get the run game going, that also opens up things like play-actions."
Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.