The Saint Jo Panthers football team will face the team that ended their magical run through the playoffs last year this week in the area round of the playoffs.
The Blum Bobcats not only beat the Panthers in the 2019 state quarterfinals 54-30, but wound up upsetting the defending state champs McLean in the finals two games later to win the state title 58-52.
The Bobcats lost several of their players to graduation, but returned enough this season to be ranked 11th in the preseason polls.
That rank fell early in the season thanks to three straight one-sided losses. Two of those losses came against some of the best ranked teams in the state Jonesboro and May. Blum has not lost since their bye-week in mid October.
The interesting thing about this matchup will be how similar these teams’ strengths not only are, but each other’s playbooks.
Saint Jo Coach Mark Stevens said he and his coaching staff became friendly with the Blum coaching staff during the offseason. The Bobcats invited the Panthers in and opened their playbook to them which Stevens said is where they got the majority of their plays for this season.
“I knew we had a talented running back coming back (Logan Brawner) and wanted an offense that would really feature him,” Stevens said.
The previous year the team’s playbook was heavily influenced from looking at division II state power Strawn. Stevens said he was surprised about how open McFarlin and his staff were in showing them everything.
With both offenses running similar plays featuring quick sweeps and off-tackle runs, there will be few secrets either coaching staff will have on the other.
“It will really come down to who executes on the field the best because both teams will have seen this offense run against them in practice all season,” Stevens said.
The Panthers play Blum at 7:30 p.m. at Bridgeport on Nov. 20. Tickets can be purchased at Saint Jo ISD’s website.
To read the full story, pick up a copy of the mid-week edition of the Bowie News.