On the road again

Farmers head back to Plano to face Panthers


Jade Slaughter

Quarterback Ethan Terrell runs the ball in for the second touchdown of the night. This tied the game after earning the field goal point.

Junior running back Viron Ellison looks to become a 1000-yard rusher when the varsity football team heads to Kimbrough Stadium tonight to face the Plano East Panthers (3-5, 0-5 district). The Panthers look to rebound from a three-point loss to the Plano West Wolves (2-6, 1-4 district) while the Farmers (7-1, 5-0 district) hope to continue the success after a win by the same margin in their “Battle Of The Axe” rivalry game against the Marcus Marauders (4-4, 3-2 district).

Weather is a concern for both teams, as forecasts predict the game to be played in the rain. Persistent wind and weather could force the offenses to rely on a run-heavy style of play. 

The team hoisted The Axe for the first time since 2018 after defeating the Marauders 17-14 in front of a packed home crowd, but it was anyone’s game down to the final whistle. 

“They stopped the run pretty well,” junior wide receiver Dylon Myrow said. “We had to throw the ball a bunch.”

The offense scored on the opening possession, but the Marauders snatched momentum, scoring 14 unanswered points off of turnovers. In the final minutes, junior quarterback Ethan Terell found the endzone for his second rushing touchdown of the night. 

The defense then forced the Marauders to punt from inside their own 10, and the kick traveled far up into a stiff opposing wind, putting the offense well inside of senior kicker Freddy Joya’s field goal range. Joya’s 20-yarder secured a Farmers lead with 24 seconds remaining. A few plays later, senior linebacker Garcia Johnson effectively ended the game, forcing a fumble which was recovered by the defense with the clock already having expired.

“It was a happy feeling to bring The Axe back after four years,” senior offensive lineman Quaveon Davis said. “[I’m glad] to not leave the school without having it.”

The offense was limited despite playing to their strengths. Ellison carried the ball 23 times for 93 yards, but the Marauders defense forced Ellison’s first fumble of the season, resulting in a fumble return for a touchdown which tied the game toward the end of the first half. When Ellison and senior running back Philip Patterson had to come to the sideline after minor injuries, the passing game became the priority. Terell finished with 119 passing yards, finding Myrow open in the slot five times for 63 yards. 

The defense held strong, holding the Marauders offense to just 130 total offensive yards. In addition to the fumble recovery on the game’s final play, senior defensive back Cameren Jenkins intercepted an endzone shot by junior quarterback Cole Welliver to stall out the Marauders drive late in the second quarter. Special teams was headlined by Joya, who kicked three touchbacks on kickoffs, made both extra point attempts, and kicked the game winning field goal. 

In the end, Marcus won the turnover battle 2-3, forcing fumbles by Ellison and Jenkins on the second half’s opening kickoff. Senior linebacker Brandon Benoist intercepted Terell’s pass on a productive third quarter drive to maintain the Marauders lead.

The Panthers face both BOTA opponents to end their regular season schedule, a tough ask for a team that has yet to win a district game. Early on, Plano East took advantage of an easier schedule (the Panthers non-district opponents since have a combined record of 10-15), going 3-0 before falling into a five game losing skid. In their district opener against Plano, the Panthers lost senior running back Daniel Fayombo, who suffered a knee injury which could hold him out for the remainder of the season. Fayombo still leads the team in carries (84), rushing yards (611) and rushing touchdowns (6).

Fayombo’s injury prompted the Panthers offense to become more pass-heavy, evidenced by junior quarterback Drew Devillier and senior wide receiver Rushil Patel’s stats this season; Patel’s 1052 yards and 13 touchdowns are some of the district’s highest receiving total, while Devillier is 28 yards away from eclipsing 2000 passing yards to go along with his 17 passing touchdowns on the season. 

The Panthers’ 291 points allowed is the highest amount allowed by any team in the district, but defensive standouts make the group not easily overlooked. Senior linebacker Chiagozie Oliver’s 60 tackles (7.5 for loss) lead the team, and his 2.5 sacks are third on the team. Junior defensive end Chima Chineke leads the team with 6.5 sacks, followed by junior nose guard Aidan Miller, with 3.5 sacks. The secondary has also forced five interceptions throughout the season.

“Even if they have a gameplan for it, they just have to stop [the run],” Davis said about the team’s rushing attack, particularly out of the jumbo formation. “I think it’s unlikely for [teams] to do [that].”

Ellison is only 45 yards away from reaching 1000 rushing yards on the season. Averaging 119.4 rushing yards per game and behind a strong offensive line with 300-plus pound linemen, he could reach that margin quickly as the team goes on the road one last time during the regular season. 

“For Viron to hit that this game would definitely be a huge milestone for him,” Davis said. “It proves how far he’s come.”