Panthers try and rebound from first loss

For three weeks the Chaffey football team found a way to compete despite all its injuries. It helped that all those games were against lower-tier teams.

The Panthers weren’t so lucky this week, losing to former Foothill Conference foe Grossmont 51-16.

“We did it with smoke and mirrors I think,” veteran coach Carl Beach said. “Those games were ones where we weren’t physically challenged. We were beating teams we should beat but we don’t have any more easy ones the rest of the way.”

The Panthers (3-1) begin National Division Central Conference play next week. Grossmont is an upper-tier team, but is in the Southern Conference.

The biggest problems for the Panthers in the loss to the Griffins were special teams and turnovers. Beach spent most of Sunday watching tape of his next foe but will also be breaking down the film of his team’s game to see where the problems occurred.

He didn’t count out making personnel changes, including using some starters on special teams.

“You hate having to use starters there but we may not have a choice,” he said. “You have to look and see who’s killing you and get him out of there.”

Then there were the turnovers — four interceptions and two fumbles to be exact.

Beach used three quarterbacks, with starter Greg Sprowls throwing for 116 yards on 11 completions but tossing three interceptions. Backup A.J. Springer made a cameo appearance, followed by Mike Stirewalt, who threw the fourth interception with the game already out of hand.

The Panthers trailed 21-0 after the first quarter and were down 37-0 before they finally scored. The large deficit also hurt because they had to go away from their game plan of running the ball. Mark Chase has been the most consistent weapon but had 75 yards on just nine carries.

Beach said Grossmont took the game more seriously.

“They were up for us. It has been a rivalry when we were in the same conference but our kids could have cared less,” he said.

“I’m thinking about cutting our practices from three hours to a half hour with a 15-minute ice cream break thrown in. We’d get the same amount of work done and everyone would be a lot happier.”