Pinewood School’s eight-man football team not only suffered from another slow start – this one was painful as well. The Panthers were down 22-0 and a key player by the end of the first quarter Friday at Woodside Priory.
Standout running back/safety Aidan Lucero (shoulder) didn’t come back, and neither did Pinewood. Priory prevailed 56-22 to complete a perfect season (7-0), denying the Panthers (5-2) a share of the Mission Trail Athletic League title.
“We’ve had some trouble coming out of the gates in most games – it takes us a little bit to get going,” said coach Matt Irvin, whose team had to settle for third place. “Unfortunately in that time, we lost Aidan Lucero, one of our leaders out here and one of our best players.”
Pinewood played Priory even in the second quarter – each team scored a touchdown – but the Panthers lost another player along the way. Greg Naumann, who replaced Lucero in the backfield, was ejected for a personal foul with just under two minutes left in the half.
“That was an unfortunate penalty on Greg – a call we’ll be reviewing,” said Irvin, who questioned the official’s claim that Naumann intentionally pulled off an opponent’s helmet. “When you lose those two guys, it gets a little tough.”
Just a few plays earlier, Naumann threw a halfback pass that set up Pinewood’s first score of the afternoon. His 52-yard bomb to quarterback Kevin Tracy put the Panthers at the 3-yard line and Jack Sweat plowed through the middle on the next play for the touchdown.
“We just threw that in this week,” Irvin said of the trick play. “I thought they were kind of overplaying one side, so we snuck Kevin out there. Greg threw a nice pass and Kevin made a nice run to get close to the touchdown. We had to do something to break the ice a little bit, and it worked.”
The two-point run failed, leaving Priory with a 28-6 lead. The score remained static until the first play of the fourth quarter when Priory’s Garrett Weber rumbled 36 yards for a touchdown. The 6-foot-2, 247-pound junior – listed as a defensive lineman – shed several would-be tacklers along the way.
Priory gashed Pinewood with its ground attack throughout the game, racking up 420 yards on 51 carries. Senior running back James McDaniel did most of the damage, totaling 239 yards and four touchdowns on 28 carries.
“He’s just a great back and hard to bring down,” Irvin said. “We played a little too high today. Against a back like that, we’ve got to get lower and go for the ankles instead of the shoulder pads. If we’d have done that, maybe it would have been a different outcome.”
Pinewood had its moments running the ball as well. Sophomore halfback Matthew Murphy raced 65 yards for a touchdown on a sweep left four minutes into the final quarter. Tracy’s two-point pass to receiver Wilson Fields cut Priory’s advantage to 40-14.
Fields wasn’t done producing points for the Panthers. The junior snared a pass across the middle from Tracy for a 64-yard touchdown and hooked up with the quarterback again on the two-point conversion. This cut Priory’s lead to 48-22 with 4:07 left.
The deficit widened on the next play from scrimmage, however, as McDaniel escaped for a 55-yard touchdown.
“Priory’s a tough team,” Irvin said. “They’re physical, ran some great plays, they’re tough tacklers and tough guys to bring down. They’re just a great football team.”
2013 football: Pinewood vs. Woodside Priory School - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier