By Joey Grappe
The North Caddo Titans faced off against the General Tress Panthers at Sanders Prudehomme stadium in second round AA playoff action Friday night. In a game that was like watching two heavyweight fighters exchange blows for back and forth for fifteen rounds; the Titans and Panthers traded touchdowns for four quarters and a double overtime. It was a game that took its toll on both sides mentally, physically and emotionally.
The Titans, having already made history with the first back to back district championships in school history set out to win the first second round playoff game in school history. The Titans wouldn’t achieve that goal but history was made. At the final whistle the two teams put a combined score 110 total points on the scoreboard with 16 touchdowns. It was truly a game for the history books.
Here is the game at a glance. The Panthers received the ball first and took the ball 79 yards in 15 plays for the first touchdown of the game. The Titans would return the blow in six plays scoring on a Charzay Morris 3 yard run. On the ensuing kickoff the Titans would recover and onside kick and with 4:36 to go in the first quarter Zion King would find the enzone. However, there was a pause in the celebration. The “Beast” Charzay Morris would be carried off the field and would not return.
Coach Johnny Kavenagh and the Titans would look to the Jr. Zion King to lead the offense. While hearts dropped and while some may have lost hope at that point, the Titans remained focused never doubting their ability to continue moving the ball against the Panther defense. The score was 14-8 Titans. The Panthers struck back just two minutes later and tied the game. On thier next possession the Titans would turn the ball over on a fumble and the Panthers struck another blow to the Titans making the score 22-14.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Panther coach in the press box shouted instructions to the coaches on the field, “ DON’T KICK IT TO NUMBER 4”! They didn’t kick it to number 4, Omarion Miller, but kicked it to KJ Black who fielded the ball on the ten yard line, hit the sideline and touchdown Titans. It was 22-20 Panthers. Then it was 28-20 Panthers. Then with 3:22 to go in the first half Zion King hit Omarion Miller for a 47 yard touchdown pass. At the end of the first half it was Titans 28, Panthers 28.
The second half would be no different from the first. Both teams continued trading blow after blow matching touchdown for touchdown. Zion King added two running touchdowns in the second half and the Panthers would match them. With the score tied at 40 the Panthers had the ball inside the Titans 10 yard line with under minute to play in regulation. The Titan defense did what they had been called to do all year and stopped the Panthers with time expiring.
The battle wasn’t over. There had to be a winner. It was overtime. The Titans had the first opportunity on offense in overtime. The Titans would score on one play with a Zion King run. The Titans set up to kick and extra point but faked it and converted for 2 points. It was 48-40. The Panthers had to score and get the 2 point conversion. After two Panther plays the score was 48-48 and they headed into the second overtime. The Panthers had first opportunity this time and met the challenge. It was 56-48 Panthers. The Titans needed a touchdown and 2 point conversion. Zion King fought his way into the end zone on again the first play. The score was 56-54 Panthers. The Titans needed to convert to take the game into a third overtime. As the ball was snapped and the play began to develop the Panther defense began to close in on the runner. There was a mighty collision between exhausted, beaten and battered young men at the goal line. As the play ended the Titans would fall one foot short of tying the game.
After four grueling quarters and two overtimes, the Titan 2020 season came to an end. It was an emotional moment for fans, coaches and players. As I stood silently in the press box I gazed across the battlefield where a great battle had just been fought. I saw the respect the Titans had earned from their opponents. I saw the emotion on the faces of players who didn’t want to leave the field. I saw the coaches offering comfort and encouragement. I thought how great it would have been to just win one more. As I left the stadium I turned to look once more at the field where the Titans had played and fought so hard. At that moment one thought settled in my mind.
In the midst of a pandemic and the controversy of a mascot change, the 2020 Titans were an inspiration to the fact that if you put your heart into it and have faith you can overcome any obstacle. As the years pass teams will come and go, but, this announcer will always remember the 2020 North Caddo Titans.
Congratulations and Thank You to Head Coach Johnny Kavanaugh, his coaching staff and to The North Caddo Titans. Go Titans!