Panthers To Face Undefeated Red Bank

Over the past 4 years the Powell Panthers have had success in traveling to the Chattanooga area as the lower seed in the first round of the TSSAA Class 4A state playoffs, winning in 3 of those 4 tries.

In 2002 Powell won at East Ridge 21-20, they shut out Cleveland at Cleveland in 2004 21-0, and just a year ago the Panthers went to Hixson and dominated the Wildcats from start to finish in a 46-14 victory. The lone loss came in 2003 at Chattanooga Central.

If Matt Lowe's Panthers are going to continue that first round success, they are going to have to defeat a very good Red Bank team in the process. The Lions wrapped up an undefeated regular season in style on Friday night with a 31-0 pasting of Hixson on the road. The shutout was the 5th of the season for the Red Bank defense, which has allowed only 48 total points all year long. Couple that with an offense that has put up just over 38 points per game and you can see why Red Bank has enjoyed that undefeated season.

Red Bank is led by quarterback Jake Ledbetter. Through the first 9 games of the year Ledbetter was 104 of 170 passing with 1,918 yards. He had thrown 25 touchdown passes, against only 11 interceptions. Ledbetter added three more TD passes to that total on Friday at Hixson.

Ledbetter has not just one, and not two, but three "go to" receivers on his team. Tim Bedford is the leading receiver with 38 catches, good for 534 yards and 6 TDs. Jeremy Caldwell is next with 28 grabs, good for 490 yards and 6 scores. Dominique McDuffy leads the team in average yards per catch with just under 20 and has made 18 catches for 355 yards and five touchdowns of his own.

Add to the potent Lion passing game the running ability of Dee Staton, who surpassed the 1,000 yard mark for the season on Friday night. Staton is averaging 7 yards per carry on the year and has scored 13 rushing touchdowns.

If Powell is to have a shot at pulling the upset over the Region 4 champions, the defense is going to have to continue its season long outstanding play. The Panthers pitched a shutout of its own on Friday, blanking Clinton 27-0 in the muck and mire of a muddy Clinton Stadium.

Senior do it all athlete Kenny Cruze did it all once again in that game. The 6'2" and 180 pound Cruze started the scoring by returning the game's opening kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown. Next he hit fellow senior Jonathon Thibodaux with a 35 yard scoring strike, and just for good measure he returned an interception 38 yards for yet a third first quarter touchdown. That was pretty much all she wrote for the Dragons.

Red Bank has a solid playoff history, going back to their days as a 5A school before moving down in classification before the 2001/2002 school year. Led by former University of Tennessee running back Gerald Riggs, Jr., the Lions won the state 5A championship in their last year as a 5A school in 2000 by defeating Murfreesboro Riverdale 27-7 in the finals.

Since becoming a 4A school, they have been eliminated in the second round in all three years they have qualified for the playoffs. In 2001 they defeated Knoxville Central in the first round before bowing out against Maryville. In the last two years the Lions defeated Halls in round one, but were eliminated by Central in round two.

You can hear the Powell at Red Bank game Friday on radio station AM 620 – WRJZ. The D-1 Sports Training Panther Pre-Game Show begins at 6:30 PM. Kickoff is scheduled for 7.

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