Friday night football meant a little something more for the Peoria squad.
Peoria High School and the football program kicked off the 100th season at home Sept. 3 with a win over Canyon View High School, 29-7.
Head coach and alumni Will Babb said taking in the moment of the 100th season is something he will continue to do more of.
“It is kind of amazing. A lot of people can’t say that. It is exciting for the kids and to have the Gonzalo (brothers) on the sideline,” he said.
The pandemic continues to challenge teams with last minutes changes and this game came together with two or three days for preparation. But for Canyon View junior Keegan Landis, just having the opportunity to compete in the first varsity game for the program was an experience.
Babb said the coaching staff for Peoria works to have the players understand football mirrors life.
“There are ups and down and side to sides, things you can control and things you can’t control,” he said.
But he admits after the initial scrimmage and then waiting nine days for the first regular season snap, was a long wait.
Peoria senior running back Cameron Mack put the Panthers on the board first with a 5-yard rushing touchdown. But for all the positive yards Peoria earned, several holding penalties went again the team.
They finished the game with 18 penalties for 185 yards, compared to Canyon View's five penalties for 55 yards.
Babb said offensively the team came out and did well on the first two drives after battling back from the holding penalties.
Senior receiver/cornerback Jeremiah Gossett added another Panthers touchdown from junior quarterback Josh Holiday.
Canyon View earned the only score of the game in the second quarter off a tipped pass by a Peoria defender that fell into the hands of a receiver laying in the endzone.
Head coach Nick Gehrts said the team looked like the young football team they are. And despite have a roster full of seniors, the team lacks the experience needed at the varsity level in the first year.
But Gehrts said the big takeaway is the team came out and played better in the second half and battled the next two quarters. He said was good to see the Jaguars has fight and didn’t just lie down.
“I told my guys everything they did was fixable, and we just have to get back at it,” he said.
Peoria special teams gained the momentum early in the second half with a 62-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Gossett. This came after Peoria’s defense forced a safety, battling at the line and getting penetration.
“We did a great job defensively and the guys played good assignment-based football and got where they needed to be,” Babb said.
Looking ahead, Peoria will prepare for a tough Casa Grande High School team coming off a 26-14 win over Sunnyslope. The Cougars knocked out the Panthers in a 4A playoff quarterfinal alst season.
Canyon View travels to Shadow Ridge in Surprise.