Panthers take down Raiders on opening night
Published: Friday, August 30, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 1:25 a.m.
NEWBERRY — Newberry High senior Monte Seabrook senses a different vibe around this year’s Panther football team.
“We’re family,” Seabrook said. “And I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I don’t let my teammates down.”
Seabrook made sure of it Friday night, scoring two touchdowns and coming up with the biggest play of the game in Newberry’s 29-14 win over rival Santa Fe.
With Santa Fe trailing 23-14 and threatening to score early in the fourth quarter, Seabrook picked off an option pass from Santa Fe running back Tray Presley near the goal line and returned it 91 yards to Santa Fe’s 7-yard line. Three plays later, Carlton Franklin scored on a 1-yard TD run to extend Newberry’s lead to 29-14.
That sealed the first win for first-year Newberry coach Kepa Sarduy, who has a close-up view of the hard-hitting rivalry between the two schools that are just 12 miles apart.
“That’s a physical team,” Sarduy said of Santa Fe. “I expect them to do well in 5A football.”
Seabrook scored on a 67-yard TD catch and run to put Newberry ahead 7-0. He then added a 52-yard TD run on a draw play to extend Newberry’s lead to 13-0 early in the second quarter. As one of six captains on the team, Seabrook has assumed a leadership role.
“He’s starting to really see how important that is for our team,” Sarduy said.
Presley kept Santa Fe in the game with a pair of kickoff returns for touchdowns, including one for 99 yards and another from 95 yards. But mistakes doomed the Raiders. Santa Fe turned the ball over four times and its sputtering offense managed just five first downs.
“I just felt like we weren’t lined up right,” Santa Fe coach Bill Wiles said. “Are we trying to do too much? I don’t know. Maybe we have to scale things back a little bit.”
A lack of composure also hurt the Raiders. Trailing 23-14 late in the third quarter, starting Santa Fe running back A.J. Mack was ejected for throwing a punch at a Newberry player. The double personal foul penalty resulted in 30 yards and knocked Santa Fe out of field goal range.
“‘In my 20-plus years as a head coach, I’ve never had a player do that,” Wiles said. “There’s just no excuse for that.”
Newberry was able to take advantage of Santa Fe’s mistakes to win for the seventh time in the last eight meetings between the two schools.
“It’s a great rivalry,” Seabrook said. “Everybody knows each other. It’s nice to have bragging rights again.”