North Lamar offensive lineman Ryder Bryant will play football at the next level beginning the fall of 2017. This week Bryant put his signature on the dotted line to join the Hardin Simmons’ Cowboys in Abilene, Texas. HSU is a NCAA Division III school that participates in the American Southwest Conference. Joining him as he signs are his father, Hank, and his mother, Jennifer. Standing behind are Panther coaches Logan McGill, NL Athletic Director Aaron Emeyabbi, and Martin Bryant. Bryant plans to major in Criminal Justice.
North Lamar High School 2017 graduate, Sam Cowling, is joining the Tigers football team at East Texas Baptist University this coming fall. ETBU is a Division III NCAA school located in Marshall, Texas, and is a member of the American Southwest Conference.
With Cowling as he signs is his mother, Michelle, and father, Mike. Coaches showing their support in back are Josh Shipman, NL Athletic Director Aaron Emeyabbi, and Martin Bryant.
It was a game that had more twists and turns than a Hollywood blockbuster. It was a game that took fans, coaches and players on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. In the end, though, it was Paris High celebrating a 42-35 victory over the hometown North Lamar Panthers.
”Our kids played their butts off. They really did…..I love that they fought hard. The scheme was there.” - Coach Emeyabbi after the game was over.
That may be an understatement on his part too. On multiple occasions, the Panthers had the opportunity to fold up and get blown out of the game. The resiliency of this team came through when they needed it most.
Paris scored the opening touchdown less than a minute into the game. North Lamar tried an onside kick to start the game and it didn’t work. Paris took over at their own 49 yard line. It only took them three plays to find the goal line.
North Lamar answered the bell as they marched 74 yards on their opening drive. It took them 10 plays to do so, while eating up nearly five minutes of game time. The result was a 13 yard run from Sam Cowling to tie the game.
After holding Paris to only three yards on their next possession, North Lamar took the ball 80 yards on their next drive. This time it took 12 plays. Javon Franklin capped it off with a one yard touchdown run.
On their first two drives, Paris didn’t give the ball to the Donovan Williams one time. That changed starting on the third series. Williams started getting the ball steadily and North Lamar had a hard time stopping him.
On the Wildcats next two possessions, Williams scored on a four yard run and a 74 yard run respectively. All of a sudden Paris was up 21-14 late in the second quarter.
North Lamar’s offense meanwhile stalled. After putting together 154 yards on their first two drives, North Lamar managed only 35 yards of offense on their next six touches.
Leading 21-14, Paris had the ball deep in North Lamar territory late in the first half. Ja’Kerion Brown spiked the ball at the Panthers 13 yard line with just under 20 seconds to play in the half.
Trying to go up by two scores, Brown rolled to his left. Trying to find Jalon Pipkins near the goal line, his pass was a little off the mark. The ball went through the hands of Pipkins and right into the hands of Menderiz Gray.
Gray, catching it at the five yard line, took off down the sideline. After breaking a few tackles, Gray found himself standing in the North Lamar endzone with two seconds left in the half.
The Panthers had tied the game. The third quarter was back and forth for both teams as neither team could move the ball. The Wildcats managed 23 yards on their two drives in the third quarter while North Lamar only had 19 on their three drives.
On the next Wildcat drive, the Panther defense held them. Facing a third down and 12, Brown ran the ball for five yards. However, a late hit out of bounds on North Lamar added 15 yards to the end of the run and kept the drive going. Paris would capitalize making the score 28-21.
Another three and out by the Panthers offense gave Paris the ball right back. This time it only took them three plays to go 68 yards, capped off by a 63 yard run from Williams.
The Panthers were now down by 14 with a little over eight minutes to play in the game. North Lamar would go back to work. The Panthers went 72 yards in 14 plays on their next drive. Cowling finished the drive with a one yard scoring run.
North Lamar appeared to have scored a few minutes earlier. Cowling pitched the ball to Austin Allison on an end around. Allison stopped and aired it out to Franklin who caught it in stride at the five and scampered in for a touchdown. However, the Panthers were flagged for an ineligible receiver down field.
Never-the-less, the score was now 35-28. With less than three minutes to play in the game, everyone knew an onside kick was about to happen. Somehow, the ball bounced perfectly between a couple of Wildcats and North Lamar recovered the onside kick.
Twenty-seven seconds later, the game was tied. It was Cowling once again. This time on a 33 yard run. Paris, though, had too much time. Paris got the ball back on their own 42 yard line. It only took them five plays to march 58 yards for the score.
Cowling would have the ball stripped away on the first play of their next drive. That would be how the ballgame ended.
”I’m proud of my team. We’ve gotten better every week and we’re peaking at the right time going into the playoffs.” - Emeyabbi
The Panthers season will continue, though, as they will be in the playoffs for the first time since 2012. North Lamar will play Terrell at Terrell. The game will be Friday at 7:30pm.
After their dominating performance at home against Princeton last Friday night, the North Lamar Panthers did something this Friday they haven't done all year long. They won a road game. Not only did they win a road game, but they were just as dominant in doing so as they were against Princeton.
North Lamar scored 15 seconds into the game and never looked back as they defeated Quinlan Ford 41-20. Forty-one points is the most points scored by North Lamar in a road game this season. They beat their previous high by nearly two touchdowns. Against Pottsboro, North Lamar scored 28 points.
Against Pottsboro, North Lamar fell behind 17-0 and couldn't recover. Against Quinlan Ford, it was a different story. After the home team won the coin toss and elected to defer, North Lamar got on the board in a hurry. It took Sam Cowling one play to go 56 yards for a touchdown. The Panthers never looked back. Travis Coston's kick went wide left to make the score 6-0. It was his only miss on the night in six tries.
Coach Aaron Emeyabbi shocked everyone in the stadium when he kicked an onside kick the next play. Coston executed it brilliantly and North Lamar was in business again. They marched the ball down to the four yard line of Quinlan Ford. However, Cowling lost the ball on a quarterback option when the linebacker hit the ball with his helmet on a tackle.
Quinlan Ford took over at that spot. They moved the ball to just beyond midfield when the Panther defense stepped up. This time it was senior Ryder Bryant who stripped the ball away from the Quinlan Ford quarterback, who was trying to run. Austin Exum fell on it and North Lamar was back in business.
This time it only took North Lamar four plays to find the back of the endzone. It was Cowling again, but this time on a 46 yard run up the middle. North Lamar led 13-0 at this point and you could sense the confidence mounting from the team.
Quinlan Ford has a misdirection offense that is designed to fool the defense. You know they're going to get some yardage and get some points. They are not built for a quick strike attack, though. They want to run it and eat up the clock.
Quinlan Ford held the ball for over 27 minutes in the game. That's seven more minutes than North Lamar. Quinlan Ford's three touchdown drives took 16 minutes off the clock. In comparison, North Lamar's six touchdown drives took 13 and a half minutes off the clock.
So when the Panthers went up 13-0, you had a sense the game was out of reach; mainly because their offense showed no signs of letting up. They didn't let up either. North Lamar finished with 497 yards of total offense. Cowling accounted for over 270 of that. He had 209 on the ground and another 63 through the air.
Javon Franklin had another great game as well. On his first six carries, he only had 11 yards on the ground. On his next 12 carries, he went for 153 and a couple of scores. Tyler Hill had two carries for 51 yards and a touchdown as well.
Quinlan Ford would trade touchdowns with North Lamar for the next two quarters. At 27-20, though, North Lamar would score 14 straight to finish out the game. The Panthers defense had another good game as well. They allowed over 350 yards but they forced three turnovers in the game.
After Cowling got the first two touchdowns in the game, Franklin was responsible for the next two. He scored on a 33 yard run and a 51 yard run respectively. The last score put North Lamar up 27-14 at the half. After Quinlan Ford took second half kickoff and went on a six and a half minute scoring drive, North Lamar came right back with a score of their own.
Facing a third down and long from the Quinlan Ford 18 yard line, Cowling threw a pass to the front corner of the endzone. Menderiz Gray made a great athletic play to jump over the defenders and bring the ball down for a touchdown. That put North Lamar up 34-20. Hill's 51 yard run would close out the scoring in the fourth quarter.
With the win, North Lamar has clinched their first playoff berth since 2012, when they played Quinlan Ford. Tommy Felty was the coach of the team still. North Lamar will close out the regular season next Friday night at R.L. Maddox stadium with a game against Paris High. Paris clinched the district title on Friday night with their win over Anna.
The North Lamar Panthers entered Friday night’s game against the Princeton Panthers in a desperate need of a win. As the only winless team in district through two games, North Lamar needed a win in a bad way. The Panthers got exactly what they hoped for as they walked away with a 27-7 victory.
From the opening kickoff to the last whistle, North Lamar dominated the visitors from Princeton. Offensively the Panthers had 436 total yards with 83 of those coming off the arm of senior quarterback Sam Cowling.
North Lamar had 21 first downs in the game. They averaged over five yards per carry for the game and converted 57% of their third down tries. They were also one for two on fourth down.
Defensively, the Panthers even played better than they did on offense. From the first time Princeton touched the ball, North Lamar caused confusion for the offense.
Brendon Strickland, the Princeton quarterback, only completed ten of his 28 passes. Part of this was the fact that the defensive backs, Menderiz Gray, Josh Daingerfield and Sebastian Stephens hit the receivers as soon as the ball arrived causing the receivers all kinds of problems catching the ball.
Another reason was Dakota Grissom and Jake Stewart caused problems at the line for Strickland. Stewart had multiple pass deflections while Grissom forced the quarterback to scramble all night.
”Grissom played out of his mind. He was one of the big vocal leaders this week and making sure the team was focused. He played exceptional.” - Aaron Emeyabbi
The linebackers shouldn’t be left out, either. Austin Allison, Ty Waggoner, Tyler Biard and Jeremiah Guenther mixed up coverage and were one step ahead of the Princeton offense all night long.
The Panthers gave up only 127 total yards to Princeton in the game. At half time, North Lamar was out gaining the visitors 287 to 28. Princeton only had 10 first downs in the game and five of those came from North Lamar penalties.
It was easily the most dominating game defensively the Panthers have had in quite a long time. The only scoring drive Princeton had came in the third quarter. Princeton went 96 yards in nine plays. They were aided, though, on three very questionable personal foul calls that gave them a total of 45 yards on the drive. The drive ended with a three yard run from Tristan Gee.
Other than that play, North Lamar held Princeton off the score sheet. It wasn’t even close, either. North Lamar forced four turnovers - two fumbles and two interceptions. Gray was the recipient of both interceptions.
North Lamar opened the scoring in the first quarter. After their first drive ended with a missed 32 yard field goal, North Lamar turned an interception into a touchdown on their next possession.
After Gray got the interception and returned it to the 35 yard line of North Lamar, he was repaid by Cowling with a score. Cowling, facing a third and eight from the 11 yard line, found Gray in the back corner of the endzone for a touchdown. Travis Coston added the extra point to make it 7-0.
North Lamar scored again on the next drive. This time it came by the legs of Javon Franklin. It was a four yard run by Franklin that made the score 13-0. It was four of his 163 yards on the night. The next score also came off the legs of Javon as North Lamar went up 20-0 with less than a minute to play in the first half.
Princeton would get their lone touchdown in the third quarter and North Lamar would put the exclamation point on the win in the fourth quarter. This time it was Tyler Hill with a one yard run for the score. Coston added his third extra point of the game to make it 27-7. That’s how the game would end for North Lamar.
With the win North Lamar is now 4-4 (1-2) on the season. They are tied with Anna, Princeton and Quinlan Ford in the district. Liberty Eylau is 2-1 and Paris is now 3-0. North Lamar will be at Quinlan Ford next Friday before closing out the season at home against Paris.
It was the start the North Lamar Panthers hoped to get on the road in Texarkana. In their previous three road games, the Panthers started off slowly. All three slow starts contributed to the three road losses. Against Liberty Eylau, though, the start was exactly what the Panthers wanted.
Liberty Eylau got the opening kick off Friday night and went 30 yards in two plays. The third play, however, is what sparked the Panthers. Quarterback Decorian Phillips dropped back from the 29 yard line and threw the ball to the endzone. Austin Allison was waiting for the pass and picked it off for North Lamar. He would return it to the 13 yard line.
The Panthers would go on a 16 play, 87 yard drive. The drive was capped off by a one yard touchdown run from senior quarterback Sam Cowling. That would be the last glimmer of hope for North Lamar until the final drive of the game.
Liberty Eylau scored 38 unanswered points beginning on the next possession. It took them only four plays to travel 67 yards. It was the first of five touchdowns on the night for the leopards. After the interception, Liberty Eylau had eight possessions. Six of them ended in scores. One of the drives ended in a punt and the other in a missed field goal.
The Panthers only other score came in the final seconds of the game. By that time, the game was way out of hand. The Panthers defense struggled once again as they allowed the LE offense to rack up 483 yards. Over 360 of them were on the ground.
Offensively, North Lamar had a hard time against the LE defense. The Panthers only managed 234 total yards. Cowling was the high man for North Lamar with 122 on the ground. Javon Franklin finished with 50 yards on 23 carries and the other Panther touchdown. Tyler Hill had 47 yards on 14 carries.
Next up, the Panthers will be at home against Princeton. Kickoff is set for 7:30 at R.L. Maddox Stadium.
Friday's district opener against Anna didn't start the way North Lamar had planned. It didn't end the way they had hoped either as the Panthers found themselves on the wrong side of a 35-19 score.
For the third time this season, the North Lamar Panthers went out on the road for a game. All three times, the Panthers found themselves in the loss column.
Part of the reason for the losses has been the slow start in those games. Friday in Anna was no different for the Panthers. After winning the opening coin toss, North Lamar elected to receive and go on offense. Their offense couldn't do a thing as it went three and out and only managed one yard on the drive.
The defense, however, didn't bend on Anna's first series. Anna got the ball on their own four yard line. They held on to it for 11 plays but only managed to travel 41 yards.
North Lamar would break the ice on their second possession. They took over at the 23 yard line. Methodically they marched down the field. Ten plays later, they found themselves in the back of the endzone.
It was the last play of the first quarter and Sam Cowling kept the ball on a quarterback option for a six yard score. Apparently that's all it took to wake up both teams.
Anna would only need 1:20 to go 57 yards to tie the score. Those 57 yards came on three plays too. Their big running back, Daunte Rose, carried it all three times on the drive. It was 57 yards of his 246 that he racked up on the ground for the Coyotes.
Not to be outdone, North Lamar would answer. They would travel 75 yards in three plays, taking only 1:06 off the clock. The big play came from Javon Franklin, who busted one for 58 yards and a score. The extra point would be missed, making the score 13-7.
Anna would score two more times in the quarter to take a 21-13 lead into the half.
Needing a defensive stand, the Panthers would get it to open the half. Steven Wisham tipped the pass to himself and then caught it. Five plays later, Franklin would find the endzone. Down by two, North Lamar chose to attempt a two-point conversion. The attempt failed, however, when Cowling was stopped short of the goal line.
That would be the last score North Lamar would make. Anna would take a couple more drives into the endzone but the offense of North Lamar was stymied by the Coyote defense. Whatever the reason for the slow road starts will need to be corrected quickly as North Lamar still has to go on the road twice more, including next Friday when they face Liberty Eylau.
North Lamar High School teacher Steve Jones, right, earned the "Game Changer Award" by the Panther football team. North Lamar Athletic Director Aaron Emeyabbi, left, presented a signed football to Jones during the homecoming pep rally. The award will be given to teachers that make a difference for student athletes in the classroom and that support them during competition.
The North Lamar Panthers came in to Homecoming with a 2-2 record. They had won their previous two games at home and lost the two played on the road. This could be a great way to head into the bye week.
The Panthers made sure it was great as they cruised to a 42-12 victory over the Canton Eagles. The North Lamar defense was ferocious all night long as well.
The Panthers forced four Canton turnovers. Last week, the offense was unable to capitalize on two Pottsboro interceptions. This week, North Lamar turned the four turnovers into 21 points.
All four turnovers happened in the first half on four consecutive possessions. Three of the turnovers were interceptions. Menderiz Gray, Austin Allison and Ty Waggoner all had an interception. Monty Ponder was the defender that recovered the fumble for North Lamar.
After turning the ball over on downs during their first possession, the Panthers got the ball back after an Allison interception near midfield. Seven plays later, Tyler Hill found the endzone on a six yard run. It was his first of three scores on the night.
The next Panther possession started at the Canton 35 after Ponder’s fumble recovery. This time it was senior quarterback Sam Cowling that found the endzone for North Lamar on a 14 yard run. Travis Coston’s extra point made the score 14-0. Coston would hit on all six extra points he attempted on the night.
North Lamar would score once more before the half would end. After Gray intercepted the ball at their own three yard line, the Panthers would march 97 yards in six plays. Javon Franklin would have a 21 and a 22 yard carry in the middle of the drive. That setup Cowling for a 15 yard run for another score. At the half, North Lamar would lead 21-0.
In the first half, the Panthers defense only gave up 99 yards of offense to the Eagles. Canton only had the ball six times, with four of those resulting in turnovers. The other two drives ended in a punt and an unsuccessful fourth down conversion.
The second half was much of the same. The Canton offense was able to score two touchdowns, but that was all. One of the scores came on a North Lamar turnover. It was the first turnover the Panther offense had since game one against Idabel.
On Canton’s second possession of the half, quarterback Hunter Moore found Zach Brown for a 55 yard touchdown pass. It was the first score of the game for Canton. The extra point attempt was blocked. That made the score 21-6.
North Lamar responded immediately, however, as Hill scored on the third play of the next drive. He took the handoff from Cowling and scampered 47 yards for the score. Hill would score his third touchdown on the next possession. This time on a three yard scamper.
The final Panther score came in the fourth quarter when Franklin broke a run for 39 yards and a score. The Panthers racked up over 500 yards of offense on the night while allowing less that 250 yards to the Eagles.
”The thing about the defense is they don’t have enough snaps in. You have games where they stand tall and bow their necks….They’ve only had five games in this defense but you got a glimpse of how great it can be.” - Head coach Aaron Emeyabbi
North Lamar is now 3-2 on the season and they will have a week off before traveling to Anna in two weeks. This will be the first district game of the year for the Panthers.
A lot of times, football is a game of adjustments. Sometimes these adjustments happen on the fly. While other times, they’re made during the halftime intermission. North Lamar’s 45-28 loss in Pottsboro Friday night was a prime example.
In the first half against Pottsboro, the Panthers had the ball four times. During those four possessions they managed only 117 yards of offense. Three of the four drives ended in punts, while the fourth was a failed fourth down conversion.
Meanwhile the Pottsboro offense had the ball five times. Three of their possessions ended with points. The other two ended with Menderiz Gray interceptions.
Playing in his first game for Pottsboro, Hunter Watson threw both of the interceptions. The 6’4 junior transfer from Denison is one of the top baseball prospects in Texas. His first pass for the Cardinals was a deep ball down the sideline. Gray read the play perfectly and was able to make the interception.
The next possession for Pottsboro ended in the same way. Watson once again tried going deep down the sideline and Gray was there instead of the intended receiver.
North Lamar also suffered from holding penalties on back-to-back plays that hurt late in the second quarter. The Panthers offense had a 31 yard run and a 25 yard run called back. Instead of having the ball in Cardinal territory, North Lamar was backed deep in their own end.
Facing a 17-0 deficit at halftime, the Panthers coaching staff would try to work their magic to get their team back into the ball game. Whatever adjustments were made at halftime worked. The offensive problems that plagued North Lamar in the first half seemed to disappear.
”We finally started blocking the right people and we were finally able to get to play.” - Aaron Emeyabbi on the halftime adjustments
The Panthers had the ball five times in the second half and they found the endzone on four of them. The only possession that didn’t end in a score was the last possession when the game ended.
The offense managed over 280 yards in the second half. It all started on the first drive when North Lamar went 62 yards in only four plays. Sam Cowling capped off the drive with a 39 yard touchdown run.
The second drive of the half was similar. The Panthers went 61 yards in six plays. This time, though, it was Javon Franklin with a 19 yard scoring run.
Not to be left out, Tyler Hill would find the endzone next for North Lamar. His 14 yard scamper would cap off a thee play, 72 yard drive.
The final touchdown would come at the 1:40 mark of the fourth quarter. Once again Cowling would break open a huge run for the score. This time it was a 40 yard run.
Defensively, though, the Panthers still couldn’t stop the Cardinal offense. Pottsboro matched North Lamar score for score in the second half.
The main difference was the clock. All four of North Lamar’s scoring drives were under two minutes. Pottsboro had one drive that lasted over six minutes and another that was just under four.
North Lamar also had to deal with three different quarterbacks that all played at any given time in any circumstance. Watson, the junior transfer, also added a running dimension for Pottsboro. He only had 26 yards passing, but he led the team in rushing with 115 yards and three touchdowns.
Pottsboro had the ball nine times and scored on seven of them. The two drives that ended in interceptions were the only exceptions to that. With Pottsboro being ranked in the top ten in Texas by Dave Campbell, it was a good test for North Lamar. The second half was encouraging.
”These guys don’t quit. They showed it right there. With all the adversity they went through. A lot of teams fold up and make the score way worse. Our kids kept fighting until the very last second. That’s all you can ask for from a football team.” - Emeyabbi
North Lamar will be home next Friday night against Canton for homecoming. Kickoff is set for 7:30 at R.L. Maddox Stadium.
For the most part, this season, the North Lamar Panthers have been all about the running game. Against Idabel, they threw the ball eight times, but most of that was due to the fact they were trailing late in the ball game. Mt Pleasant only saw three attempts from Sam Cowling. Against Greenville, it was a different story, though.
The Lions saw six attempts from Cowling in the Panthers 40-20 victory. When you run 46 plays on offense, that doesn’t seem like a lot. And to be honest, it isn’t a lot of attempts. However, it’s not the number that was so intriguing. It was when the pass plays occurred that caught everyone off guard.
Take the first pass play for instance. North Lamar received the opening kick off and got the ball at their own 44 yard line. After a Javon Franklin run, the Panthers had the ball near midfield. On second down and two, the entire stadium knew that one of two things were about to happen. Cowling was going to hand the ball off to Franklin or he was going to keep it on an option play for a run himself.
Someone forgot to tell head coach Aaron Emeyabbi this, though. Emeyabbi and his staff dialed up a pass play that was perfectly executed. Cowling took the snap from center and rolled to his left. He fired down field and Menderiz Gray made a nice over the shoulder catch for a 33 yard gain. Four plays later, Franklin found the endzone for the score.
The next pass came a little later in the first quarter. Panthers, once again near midfield, were facing a second down and 19. More times than not, you will see teams run the ball here hoping to get back some of the yardage needed to make a first down. North Lamar decided to gamble and throw the ball. It wasn’t anything spectacular but it was a completed pass to Josh Daingerfield for a seven yard gain.
The next play, third and 12, was the part where North Lamar pulled out their bag of tricks. Nobody thought they would pass the ball two times in a row. Well nobody except the North Lamar team. And pass is exactly what they did. This time it was to Braylon Perrin for an eight yard gain.
These two plays set up a fourth and four from the Lions 34 yard line. Cowling took the next play to the house on a quarterback option to put the Panthers up 14-0.
The pass came in the second quarter. Facing a second down and 10 from the Lions 33 yard line, Cowling hit Daingerfield for a 12 yard pass and a first down. Although the drive wouldn’t end in points, this was just another example of North Lamar mixing things up against the Lions defense.
The next time Cowling would throw the ball would be in the third quarter. This would be the most spectacular of all the pass plays North Lamar would have on the night. With a 20-13 lead, North Lamar is facing a second and 16 after a fumble on a handoff exchange.
Cowling drops back to pass and is flushed out of the pocket. He starts rolling to the near side and throws the ball down the field as he nears the Panther sideline. Perrin, who is sprinting across the field near the 40 yard line of Greenville dives towards the ball and makes a remarkable catch for a 24 yard gain. Three plays later, and Cowling would be standing in the endzone for another Panther score.
Of course the passing game was a nice compliment to the Panthers already dynamic running game. With the 84 yards passing, the Panthers added another 275 on the ground. Most of those coming from Cowling and Franklin. Franklin finished the game with 151 yards on 20 carries and three touchdowns while Cowling went for 119 and three scores.
Both players, once again, had runs broken for touchdowns. Javon broke a 60 yard run while Cowling had a 34 yard scamper of his own.
Not to be overlooked is the defense, either. The Panthers gave up 327 yards to the Lions. The Panthers defense, though, stood tall when it needed to. Twice Greenville faced a fourth down situation in which the North Lamar defense stopped them from converting the first down.
Trailing by 14, Greenville got the ball inside the Red Zone at the 15 yard line. A holding penalty and a sack by Jeremiah Guenther put the ball at the 34 yard line of Greenville. The pass attempt on fourth down was knocked away by the safety Matt Gibbons to end the threat.
Once again, the defense would come up big when it needed to. This time it was late in the fourth quarter. With Greenville trailing 33-20, they had to score and had to score quickly. The problem was the stubborn Panthers’ defense wasn’t allowing this to happen.
”We’re going to be in some dogfights, so that’s how it has to be” - Coach Aaron Emeyabbi on his ‘bend, don’t break’ defense.
The Lions had the ball on their own 40 yard line facing a 2nd and one. Three opportunities to gain one yard and three opportunities failed. The first came when quarterback Fred Whaley threw an incomplete pass. The next came when Nakia Wilson was tackled for no gain. The last happened when Whaley was stopped at the line of scrimmage.
With the win, North Lamar is now 2-1 on the season and will travel to Pottsboro next Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7:30.
”Pottsboro is a much more disciplined football team than the last three we faced…. We have to get more disciplined as a football team.” - Emeyabbi
Perhaps it was the fact the North Lamar Panthers were playing at home or maybe its because they had another week under their belts. Either way the defense that stepped on the field Friday night against the Mt. Pleasant Tigers looked completely different than the team that played in Idabel.
In Idabel, the North Lamar defense gave up 478 total yards. The Panthers defense only gave up 244 total yards on Friday night. Perhaps the more telling number, though, is how the defense played during crucial junctures of the game. Last week Idabel was four out of 12 on third down conversions and an incredible four of six on fourth down conversions. Mt. Pleasant only converted one of each Friday night.
The first two drives for Mt. Pleasant both ended with fumbles caused the Panther defense. North Lamar forced three turnovers by the Tiger offense resulting in 13 points.
Mt. Pleasant had three drives on the night in which they didn’t get more than 10 yards. One of the drives ended with negative yardage and they had another one in which they only gave up 11 yards. The only time, Mt. Pleasant moved the ball further than 40 yards on a drive was the last drive of the game in which time ran out.
”I told people we can play defense. We have good defensive coaches. We have good kids. They’ve got heart. Last week does us no justice. It was the first time they’ve been in a game situation…It was a totally different bounce back. We knew we could do it.” - Aaron Emeyabbi
Bounce back may be an understatement as the Tigers only managed one score on offense. The only other touchdown for Mt. Pleasant came on a 45 yard punt return for a touchdown.
The Panthers got the opening kick off and could not do anything with it. North Lamar managed only five yards on three plays. Forced to pun from their own nine yard line, the Tigers capitalized. Tydre’on Wilkerson took the punt at the 45 yard line and was able to score as he scampered down the sideline.
It didn’t take the North Lamar offense long to respond, however. The first play of the next series saw Javon Franklin take a handoff and go 70 yards to the house for a touchdown. Before the quarter would end, North Lamar would take the lead. This time, it was Sam Cowling on a two yard run. A missed extra point and a failed two-point conversion would leave the Panthers up 12-7 after one.
The two teams would battle back and forth until late in the second quarter. It was at that point Cowling went 69 yards for a touchdown on a read option play. The extra point by Chayanne Peralta was good giving the Panthers a 19-7 lead. The Tigers would score their final touchdown before the half to make it 19-14.
The second half belonged to North Lamar as they outscored the visiting Tigers 20-0. The first score came at the 5:23 mark of the third quarter when Tyler Hill scampered two yards for a score. Cowling would find the end zone for the third time in the game as well. His score came late in the fourth quarter. Facing a fourth and goal from the one yard line, Cowling easily got into the end zone to extend the lead to 32-14.
After the defense recovered their third fumble of the game, the Panthers offense took to the field to run out the clock and secure the win. Three plays into the drive, though, and Franklin broke through the line for a 30 yard score with less than a minute to play.
With the win, North Lamar evens their season record at 1-1. The Panthers will be at home next Friday as they welcome Greenville to R.L. Maddox stadium. Kickoff will be at 7:30.
Friday night’s game between North Lamar and Idabel had the opening that any coach could want in a football game. The ending, however, was not as desirable as the Panthers fell to the Warriors 43-27 on the road.
North Lamar, under new head coach Aaron Emeyabbi, took the opening kickoff and marched down the field. The Panthers went 55 yards in six plays. The drive started on their own 45 yard line thanks to a nice kickoff return by Javon Franklin. It was senior quarterback Sam Cowling with a 13 yard run that would open the scoring for North Lamar.
It didn’t take the Idabel Warriors long to answer the North Lamar score. On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Tyriq French would give the North Lamar defense a taste of things to come. French found his star receiver, Tyrone Howell, for a 49 yard touchdown pass.
The completion was the first of 18 for French with Howell being on the receiving end of 13 of them. It wasn’t just French’s arm, though, that gave the Panther defense fits. He also picked up 190 yards on the ground. Of the 478 yards Idabel had on offense, 418 of them were from French.
After Idabel missed the extra point attempt, the score would remain 7-6 until the start of the second quarter. It was on the first play from scrimmage that French scampered for 11 yards and another Warrior touchdown. The two-point attempt was no good as French’s pass fell in complete. The score was now 12-7 in favor of the home team. This drive was setup by a turnover from the Panthers’ offense.
Driving down the field, late in the first quarter, North Lamar was facing a second down and 11 from the 42 of Idabel. On a read option play, Cowling tucked the ball and ran. After getting through the defense and breaking some tackles, he headed for the goal line. As he got inside the 15 yard line, a Warrior defender was able to punch the ball out from behind causing a fumble. Idabel picked up the loose ball and ran it back to their own 27, setting up the scoring drive.
The Panthers’ offense would not be denied, though. They answered the scoring drive from Idabel with a nine play, 63 yard drive of their own. This time it was Franklin who found the end zone. It was the first of three touchdowns on the night for Javon. Chayanne Peralta kicked the extra point, making the score 14-12 in favor of North Lamar.
Idabel, however, would show how explosive their offense can be. The Warriors would score three times for 16 points in the final 4:02 of the first half. The scoring started with a four yard run from French. The extra point was good, making the score 19-14.
North Lamar would finish with a three and out on their next possession, forcing a punt to Idabel. It only took the Warrior offense two plays to travel 47 yards. The big play was improvised by LaQuan Wells.
Wells took the handoff from French near midfield. Trying to escape trouble, he was wrapped up. The play looked as though it would go for a loss of yards. However, before he went down, he flicked the ball back to French. French was able to easily get by the defense and take the ball to the end zone. A missed extra point made the score 25-14.
Another three and out by the Panthers gave the ball back to Idabel with under a minute to play. The Warriors took over in great field position, too, as they got it at the 39 of North Lamar. Three plays later, they had the ball on the eight yard line. Jarrett Bushers lined up for a 25 yard field goal and split the uprights. The Warriors led 28-14 at the break.
The North Lamar defense opened up the second half with a bang. They held the high powered offense of Idabel to only seven yards on their opening possession. The punt for the Warriors only netted five yards, giving the Panthers the ball at the Idabel 35 yard line.
Franklin took two handoffs from Cowling on the next drive and got 35 yards and a touchdown. The extra point made the score 28-21. The defense would once again come up big. This time it was on a fourth and goal play. French’s pass fell incomplete, turning the ball back over to North Lamar.
Franklin would once again capitalize. This time, he took it 59 yards for the score. The extra point was no good, so the score was 28-27. That would be all the scoring North Lamar would get in the game.
Idabel would score twice more in the fourth quarter. The first coming on a 77 yard drive. The second coming on a 72 yard drive. Franklin finished with 226 yards on the ground. Cowling had 100 for the Panthers. They had no passing yards for the game.
”You’re never happy when you lose. I am happy for the guys, though. They kept their heads up and never got down….I always tell them, you’re never out of a fight.” - Aaron Emeyabbi
North Lamar will be at home for the next two ball games, beginning next Friday night when they host Mt. Pleasant. It will be senior night. Kickoff is set for 7:30.
A new face will soon be seen leading the North Lamar Panthers. Coach Aaron Emeyabbi (EM-EE-yah-bee) was the name recommended by the search committee and presented to the School Board by Superintendent John McCullough. Approval was given during last night’s board meeting to name Emeyabbi as the new athletic director and head football coach.
Emeyabbi has called Ferris, Texas, home for the past five year where he has been athletic director and head football coach for the Ferris Yellowjackets. His philosophy is for the young men and women he coaches to grow as individuals and develop maturity, character and a sense of fair play. This success, he believes, begins with coaches who not only prepare players on the field, but arm them with traits that will serve everyone no matter their career path.
Emeyabbi and his wife, Katie, have five children: “four on earth and one in heaven,” says Aaron. They have two boys, Kobey (14) and Thorpe (2), and three girls, Lily (9),* Brynn* (7) and Nellie, who was stillborn after 17 weeks.
North Lamar head football coach Tim Billings has resigned as football coach and athletic director effective Friday, February 19. Coach Billings, who came on as North Lamar's AD in March of 2014, has accepted a position on the Southern Mississippi coaching staff as the assistant head coach.
Southern Mississippi recently hired Jay Hopson as their new head football coach. Hopson and Billings worked together for three years in the late 90's at Marshall. In his two years as North Lamar's football coach, the Panthers were 11-9 and barely missed the playoffs in both seasons.
Versache Buchanan has signed a letter of intent to play quarterback at Alcorn St.
Senior Safety Trey Scudder was rewarded for an outstanding year in football as the lone player from North Lamar to receive first team All District Honors.
The 5th and 6th grade North Lamar Panthers Youth Football Team earned their third consecutive championship after beating Hugo at the Super Bowl on November 7 at Prairiland. Participating teams play from August to November on Saturday mornings rotating games from one varsity field to another. The Panthers finished the season with an 8-1 record after playing Chisum, Valliant, Rivercrest, Hugo, Mt. Vernon, and Prairiland.
North Lamar’s Panther team members include Case Fendley, Riley Reaves, Jayden Brown, Ayden Exum, Lane Nelson, Cole Fendley, Cooper Moore, Gage Reeves, Orlandor Porter, Brock Davis, Tyler Nottingham, Jet Petkus, Blake Crenshaw, Clayton Beard, Brayden Brown, Felix Sefcik, Jayden Brown, Turner Baxter, Remington Brown, Maverick Brown, Justin Daughtrey, Ryan Giberson, Coy Cox, Corbin Leisman, Rowdy Spangler, Brayden McCormack, Dawson Dority, Cason Merrit, Kyler Gorgan and Tyler Weemes. Coaches for the winning team are Bo Exum, Wes Brown, Craig Fendley, Kenny Dority, Brad Weems, Alan Vanderburg, Robert Giberson and Chris Brown.
Cheering for the Panthers at the games and pictured beginning front row left are Olivia Tellez, Kayla Lamire, Kaidynse Goodwin, Alaina Johnson, Kylie Crawford, Zoe Felsberg, Ava Exum, Reily Rusak, Lindy Goodwin, Katelynn Bridgers, Hylan Hughes and Adyson Blount. In back are Londyn Hooge, Avery Gain, Rian Hilliard, Madalyn Hedrick, Chandler Renfro, Kylie Burchinal, Katie Keele, Kinsey Walters, Harley Avery, Dani Blount, Kelsey Wells and Brallee Winston. Coaches in back are Destiny LaVoy and Blair Slagle.
Submitted by: Joseph Tellez
North Lamar 7th A football defeated Paris 7th A 16-6
Special Teams – Favian Morales
Offense – Javin Cary, Carter Renfro, Landon Barnett, Kollin Drake, Ethan Allison
(J. Cary 15 yd Rushing TD L.Barnett 2pt conversion)
(A. Stutsman 1yd Rushing TD L.Barnett 2pt conversion)
Defense- Austin Stutsman, Jalen Gray, Javin Cary, Jalen Gray, Konder Morris
It had all the makings of a Hollywood ending. Not only was it against your crosstown rival, but it was for a playoff berth as well. Throw in the fact that sophomore Matt Gibbons was making his first varsity start and you had the makings of a great story.
The only problem with this story is the other team also showed up with a chance for a playoff berth. With the scenario set at Wildcat stadium, one team played one of its best games of the year while the other team played its worst. Unfortunately for the North Lamar Panthers, they were the latter of the two teams.
The Panthers only managed 175 yards of offense with only 79 of them coming on the ground. Gibbons only completed four passes for 92 yards, with 78 of them coming on one play to Julique Franklin. Gibbons hit Franklin for a touchdown with 10:47 left in the fourth quarter. That would be the only time North Lamar would find the end zone in the 48-10 loss.
The only other points came in the third quarter when Nick West nailed a 42 yard field goal. At that point, though, Paris already had 34 points on the board.
“Paris came with an attitude to play,” head coach Tim Billings said after the game. “This is one of the worst games we’ve played all year, and I think it’s one of the best Paris has played all year. They stepped up their game.”
Stepped up might be an understatement. Paris finished with nearly 600 yards of total offense, with over 400 of them coming on the ground. Senior Quez Allen had 183 yards rushing to go with 166 in the air.
Something else Paris didn’t do was turn the ball over. As a matter of fact, neither team had any turnovers in the game. Both teams kept the penalties in check as well.
Paris opened up the scoring in the first quarter on a one yard run by Allen. The game would remain 7-0 until midway through the second quarter. That’s when Dren Rollerson found the end zone to make it a two score game. Paris would score two more touchdowns in the next five minutes to take a 28 point lead into half.
Just two and a half minutes into the third quarter Allen would hit Ja’Kerion Brown on an 84 yard touchdown to make it a 34 point game. It was then that North Lamar would put together a drive, ending in the field goal from West.
“If Paris plays the way they did tonight, they could go deep into the playoffs,” Billings said. “They have a really good football team.”
For Coach Billings and his staff its now a time of self-reflection to figure out where they went wrong. Although the record is a game worse than a year ago, it’s obvious the team was much improved over the 2014 team. North Lamar will head into the offseason knowing they have a bright future.
For now, though, we say thank you to the team for always giving their all. Even when they were down, they always fought and competed. Thank you for another great year of memories.