Panorama shakes off a slow start, pummels St. Edmonds

Fort Dodge - 
As their third-year quarterback went, so did the Panorama Panthers in their week one test. 
Junior Luke South shook off a pair of first quarter interceptions and an early deficit to lead the 1A squad to a convincing  41-14 road victory over Fort Dodge St. Edmond in the season opener. 
The dual-threat signal-caller amassed 376 total yards (203 yards passing) and four touchdowns, including a staggering 173 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns on 17 carries (a 10.2 yards per carry average). 
It was a spectacular offensive display (464 total yards) for a squad looking to get back on the winning track after suffering their first losing season in more than a decade in 2017 (3-6). 
Of course, it was only fitting the Panorama offense looked to one of their more veteran starters for guidance in the early going. 
“Luke is a great athlete and has a lot of experience for a junior. He did a great job of distributing the ball to the guys around him and they made some big plays,” Panorama first-year head coach Mike Kauzlarich said. “I think, for the first night, he really looked poised and understood the purpose and scheme of the offense.” 
South, who notched his 11th career victory as well as crossed the 30 career touchdown plateau (he now has 32 scores), threw two interceptions on his first three passes Friday night, which put the Panthers in a 6-0 hole. The offense didn’t panic though, and scored the next 27 points of the half, including a 45-yard South touchdown jaunt as time expired in the opening frame. Panorama would finish the game on a 41-8 run, which pleased their coach after a somewhat rocky start. Early season jitters could have played a role in the first quarter, Kauzlarich said. 
“The guys began to settle down and let the game come to them,” the coach said. “We were very excited about being out on the field on Friday night and pressed early on. Once the nerves settled the guys did a great job of focusing on just executing.”
It was stout play of the Panorama defense that kept the Gaels at bay for most of the night. Other than St. Edmond’s first touchdown on a short field (following a tipped South pass for an interception), the Panthers locked in. The defense allowed just eight points over the final three quarters, led by 6.5 tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack from Hunter Holmes. The Gaels only mustered 172 yards of total offense, all on the ground as Panorama held St. Edmond to zero passing yards.
Kauzlarich pointed to the brick wall up front which set the tone, especially the efforts of their leading tackler. 
“Our defense played amazing all game. Early on our offense put them in some bad situations in which we fought through,” the coach said. “Our defensive line really stepped up for us. Hunter Holmes had a breakout game defensively and showed he has a lot of potential for this season. 
Our defense is young, with starting four sophomores, but had great leadership from senior Trey Cobb at linebacker to make the defense roll.”
The incredibly mobile South amassed 229 total yards and three touchdowns by the halftime break, leading Panorama to a 27-6 advantage. He found six different receivers on the night, including touchdown passes to Gracen Welburg (4 rec., 74 yards) and Zach Rizzuti (3 rec., 60 yards). South’s ability to navigate Kauzlarich’s new look offense, using a spectacular balance of the pass and run, was encouraging as a new era got underway. 
A budding talent, Kauzlarich feels South could make quite the impact this fall. He’s just a two years removed from a 7-2 campaign as a freshmen. There’s still room to improve, which should be a scary notion for opposing defenses. 
“Luke is going to turn some college coach’s heads this fall and will get opportunities to play at the next level,”  Kauzlarich said. “I believe a major focus for him to develop his game is continuing to enhance his football IQ, and growing as a leader. 
Luke is a four sport athlete which benefits him a lot, and he embraces the significance of the weight room and has a great work ethic.”
Wyatt Clark and Cobb each scored rushing touchdowns while Cobb also hauled in a pair of passes for 24 yards. Trent Hambleton recorded 5.5 tackles and a sack in the win. 
As a unit, the Panthers tallied 464 yards of offense (203 yards passing and 261 rushing yards). The breakout performance was the fifth best total in 1A in week 1, as was South’s 173 rushing yards. 
Panorama hosts non-district foe Manson-Northwest Webster in their home-opener Friday night. The Cougars are coming off a 40-18 week one loss against Ogden. Ogden’s Sam Christensen threw for a state-best 286 yards and five touchdowns in the win, amassing 454 total yards as he piled up 168 yards on the ground.
Manson-Northwest Webster did air it out in the loss, as quarterback Derek Girand threw for 279 yards on 36 attempts. Girand’s favorite receiver was Dawson Estergaard, who hauled in eight catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns. 
Initially, the plan of attack should be to allow South to dictate the pace. Another dual-threat quarterback could spell trouble for the visiting Cougars. 
“Manson is a very well coached, physical team. They typically lean heavy on the run, but had a break out game passing last week,” Kauzlarich said. “We are going to have to improve on our penalties and cut down on the turnovers. Although they fell short against Ogden, Manson-Northwest Webster is going to be a very good challenge early on. 
They have great numbers and coach Jeff Anliker will have them ready to go.”
Kick-off is set for 7 p.m. in Panora. 

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