By SALLY SEXTON

H-P Sports Writer



If the Westwood Panthers want to keep their season alive, they know they’ll have to play one of their best games Friday night against Diboll in the Class 3A-Region III bi-district game at Abe Martin Stadium in Lufkin.

Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.

The Panthers have only made the playoffs twice before, in 1989 and 1992, but have never won a playoff game.

“As a whole, we’re all really excited,” head coach Kevin Anderson said. “Everyone is like busy bees, trying to get things done. It’s a positive buzz around here.”

Westwood (6-4) is coming into the game as the underdog, going up against a Diboll (9-1) team that has had only one loss this season against Carthage last week.

“We know we’re the underdogs, but we feel like we’re pretty much even with them,” Anderson said. “We’re going to have to play our biggest game of the season if we want to stay around.”

Much like the Panthers, Diboll’s strength comes from it’s offense, led by running back Ketaraus Stanton.

The tailback is averaging over 8 yards per carry and has rushed for 23 touchdowns on 1,627 yards this year.

“Offensively, they’re standout is Stanton,” Anderson said. “We’ve got to make sure we stop him and their quarterback.”

Jacolby Spencer has thrown for 1,609 yards and 23 scores this season.

The Panther defense is coming off it’s best game so far, holding Groesbeck to under 150 total yards and allowing only one touchdown in the 55-8 win.

“We’re coming off of a good defensive game against Groesbeck, so we’re kind of on a positive note right now,” Anderson said. “We don’t feel overconfident, we feel like we’ve got to prove to everyone we play that we’re capable.”

Westwood’s offense comes into the game averaging over 42 points a game, and the Panthers have outscored opponents 421-276 this season.

Gralyn Crawford leads the passing game with 15 touchdowns and 1,616 yards, while D.J. Morrow dominates the running game, rushing for 1,398 yards and 22 scores.

But the Panther offense has committed 25 turnovers over all, with 14 of them coming on lost fumbles.

“Whoever takes care of the ball and the team that plays error-free is going to have the chance to move on,” Anderson said. “We feel like we can win, and we expect it to be a big game.”

Notes: Westwood will be holding a community-wide pep rally will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at Panther Stadium. Westwood players of the 1989 and 1992 playoff teams will be in attendance. ...Westwood and Diboll spent two years in the same district in 2004 and 2005. Diboll won in both years – 72-33 in 2004 and 44-41 in 2005. In the 2005 game, Crawford was 14-of-26 passing for 413 yards and five touchdowns.

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Sally Sexton can be reached via e-mail at sports2@palestineherald.com

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