October 26, 2005 - For some teams, district playoffs mark the beginning of a new season and the Mehlville Senior High School football team appears to be taking full advantage of the situation.
The Panthers (1-7, 0-5 Suburban West) grabbed their first win of the 2005 season with a commanding 43-6 victory over Fox Friday night. The win for Mehlville essentially puts the Panthers in a tie with Oakville for first place in the District No. 1 standings.
"We've been struggling between beating ourselves with mistakes and injuries," Mehlville head coach Gary Heyde said. "We've always felt we were a better team. We're going to have to go out and prove it here in these next two weeks."
Mehlville jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a 72-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kevin Mahler to running back Rashad Wilson with 11:41 left in the second quarter. Wilson had six carries for 36 yards and three touchdowns.
"Rashad's been improving every week," Heyde said. "He's been working a lot harder in practice and it's beginning to pay off."
Mahler also had an outstanding evening as he completed five of 10 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns.
"Kevin's been playing well all year long," Heyde said. "He's an accurate passer and he's throwing the long ball really well."
The Panthers extended their lead to 13-0 when wide receiver T.J. Brown hauled in a 60-yard touchdown pass from Mahler with 7:08 left in the second quarter. Brown led the Panthers with three receptions for 118 yards and two touchdowns. The junior also had two interceptions.
The Panthers added to their lead in the third quarter as Wilson scored on a 13-yard touchdown run to put Mehl-ville at 18-0 with 6:31 left in the quarter. Wilson's touchdown run was complemented by junior Travis Shores' 24-yard touchdown run with 3:36 left in the third quarter.
"Travis has been playing really well, "Heyde said. "He's one of our juniors that's been improving every week."
Fox finally got onto the scoreboard with 56 seconds left in the third quarter as Jon Hendricks scored on a one-yard touchdown run.
But the Panthers immediately responded as Wilson scored his third touchdown of the game on a 22-yard run with 38 seconds left in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter saw Brown score on a 52-yard touchdown pass from Mahler with 10:23 left to play in the game. Shores helped drive in the final touchdown of the game as he scored on a 28-yard run with 8:28 remaining.
The Panthers are back in action at 7 p.m. Friday in their most important game of the season as they play host to Oakville in the second round of the District No. 1 tournament. A win for the Panthers essentially could lock up the district championship, while a loss virtually would eliminate them from postseason play.