Panther trio paves way into playoffs

Published 6:08 pm Thursday, November 6, 2008

Jemison has plenty of experienced, outstanding players on both sides of the football—running back Merell Morrow, offensive lineman Teddy Poe, defensive lineman Garrett Carden, linebacker Christian Briscoe and defensive back Jamie McKenzie were all named to The Clanton Advertiser’s Preseason All-Area Team.

But as the Panthers (7-3) tonight try to win their first playoff game since 2000, three players have been most critical to the team’s success: Eric Argo and Patrick Sims on offense and Hunter Northcutt on defense.

Jemison plays Class 4A No. 9 Handley at 7 tonight.

Though a senior, first-year quarterback Argo has led the offense with his arm and his character. Argo has thrown for 1,093 yards and 17 touchdowns. He has also ran for six scores.

But Argo’s greatest contribution might be the tone he sets for the team with his gritty play. Abbott said he knew in the first game of the season—a 28-21 over rival Chilton County High in which Argo shook off a late injury to throw the game-winning touchdown pass—that Argo would work just fine at quarterback.

“You kind of like that in a player, that he has the confidence to want to try to make plays to win a game,” Abbott said.

Argo’s favorite target has been Sims, a junior. Sims, who has 24 receptions for 372 yards and six touchdowns on the season, was forced to move from receiver to tight end when starter James Scalf went down in the CCHS game.

“I thought it was going to be [a difficult transition] because we ask our tight ends to block a lot,” Abbott said. “He’s having to block linebackers instead of corners.”

Northcutt is the team’s second-leading tackler with 70. He has also recorded six sacks, two caused fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

“He’s made a lot of big plays at crucial times,” Abbottt said. “Some people want to hide to the side, but he wants to be in there.”