If you want to win, you have to put in the work, and it has to be a full team effort.
After going 0-10 in 2019, it was obvious from the first drive that Delta spent the time in the weight room all summer trying to get better, as the Panthers pushed Evergreen around all night long on both sides of the ball, breaking a 7-7 halftime tie to forge a 35-7 win on the road.
It was Delta’s first NWOAL win in four years.
“It’s been a long time for Delta,” said Panther coach Nate Ruple. “It’s our first league win since 2016 and these kids wanted it. They’re hungry, they put in work, not just some of them, all of them.
“We aren’t where we want to be quite yet but this was a really good first step.”
The Panthers’ strength advantage was apparent immediately when they took the opening kickoff and went straight ahead at the Vikings. Going on a 12-play drive that ate up just over half of the first quarter, Josh Tresnan-Reighard rolled through a pair of Vikings for a 16-yard score and a 7-0 Panther lead.
Evergreen tied the game in the second quarter after an exchange of turnovers when Jacob Riggs took a screen pass, got a block from Ethan Loeffler, and went 63 yards for a score to knot the game at 7-7.
That score held for the rest of the half, then the stronger Panthers took over in the second half.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our offensive line,” expressed Ruple. “We created a push for our backs, we just kept plugging away and kept grinding.
“7-7 at halftime and those guys decided they wanted to come out and play some football in the second half and they got it done. I couldn’t be prouder of my football team.”
DJ Davis found a seam on the right side on the Panthers’ fourth play after a Viking punt and went 61 yards for a score that gave Delta the lead for good.
A series of three turnovers, a tipped pass that was intercepted by Max Hoffman, then two fumbles, led to three more Panther scores.
Hoffman went in from five yards out, then quarterback James Ruple ran for one score from 12 yards out, and threw to Tresnan-Reighard 25 yards for another to pad the Panther lead in the fourth.
But overall the night belonged to the Delta offensive line and Tresnan-Reighard.
As the Panthers pushed the Vikings back all night, Tresnan-Reighard ran for 158 yards, dragging Vikings on many of his 30 carries.
“He does everything for us,” Ruple said of his junior workhorse. “He plays offense, defense, special teams. We put the ball in his hands and let him work and again hats off to our o-line.”
Delta ran for 263 yards on 50 rushes overall, while Evergreen had a minus-5 yards on the ground.
In total, Delta accumulated 300 yards to Evergreen’s 94.
Delta (1-0, 1-0 NWOAL) hosts Bryan (0-1, 0-1) Friday night while Evergreen (0-1, 0-1) plays at Patrick Henry (1-0, 1-0).
Reach Joe Blystone at email@example.com