By Kyle Lovern
NAUGATUCK – The Tug Valley Panthers have their backs against the wall. With a 3-3 record and ranked No. 20 in Class A heading into week number seven, the coaching staff at TVHS knows it has work to do to make the post season. (The top 16 teams in each classification make the playoffs.)
“Right now, record wise, we aren’t quite where we want to be,” said Tug Valley assistant coach Justin Crawford. “Those losses were games we thought we should have won. It’s been an interesting season.”
“I don’t think a 6-4 team will make the playoffs, we will have to win out. The good news is the players are confident and working hard. We’ve got a tough road ahead but we are up for the challenge,” Crawford added.
This week Tug Valley is highly favored as they take on 0-5 Valley of Fayette. However, as most coaches know, road games can always be tough. The Greyhounds played Meadow Bridge close last week, losing 26-21.
The Panthers are on a two-game losing streak. They lost 35-12 last week at Buffalo and dropped a 36-16 contest to Tolsia the prior week.
The Panthers have been led by junior running back Dawson Elia and junior fullback Noah Lucas. Junior quarterback Jonathan Blankenship is the signal caller leading the offense.
Veteran linemen Josh Deboard, Brady Spaulding, Chandler Carey and Andrew Dingess do the work in the trenches. Carson May and Todd Blevins are two other linemen who the coaching staff says have improved.
Tug Valley was hit hard by graduation and also the transfer of Jeremy Dillon to Mingo Central, so they have had an entire new lineup this season.
The Panthers are relatively healthy heading into this week’s contest. Tug Valley has not had a bye week, which won’t occur until the final week of the regular season. Looking ahead Tug Valley will host Mount View and Montcalm, before heading to Logan County to take on Class AA Man in the final regular season contest of the 2016 campaign.
“Over the last several years we’ve not had any major injuries. This year the injury bug has found us,” Crawford concluded. “We are getting a few guys healthy again that will help. There is no doubt we are in a hole, with our backs against the wall.”
(Kyle Lovern is the Managing Editor for the Civitas Media Mountain District including the Williamson Daily News and Logan Banner. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)