The Battle of Midway

Panthers end season in last second nail-biter


Jacob McCready

The players and fans entered Kyle Field with the anticipation of an exciting game of football. The team tried to keep their emotions in check and continue pre-game routines as normal. Before running out through the Panther head, the players get psyched and pass under the sign reminding them to “Oak ‘Em!”

In a valiant fight that lasted until the last seconds of a thrilling game, the Panthers took on Waco Midway in the 3rd round of the state playoffs at Texas A&M’s Kyle Field on Sat., Dec. 1. Despite their efforts, the Panthers lost 27-28, but the game ended a season that is one that the Klein Oak family will look back on with pride.

“I am especially proud of the personal growth and maturity of the players both on and off the field,” Bob Birner, Booster Club President and father of junior guard Blaine Birner, said. “I was privileged to be around these boys so much this past year and after seeing the amount of work that the coaches and players put into this season, I never wanted this ride to end for them.”

Before the game, the players and the stands filled with excitement. All Black and Gold fans were ready and enthusiastic for kickoff.

“There was a lot of energy during the game both in the locker room and on the sidelines,” senior defensive end Chase Hill said. “Overall the mood was awesome. We could really feel the energy.”

Oak started out on defense and set the tone early, forcing a punt from Midway and giving the Panther offense good field position to start their campaign.

The very first play, the Oak offense started with a hard 20-yard run from junior running back Kendal Taylor.

Jacob McCready
Junior running back Kendal Taylor flies through the Midway defense for another first down in the second quarter. Klein Oak dominated both sides of the ball in the first half of the game with impressive work on the ground and in the air that kept Waco from scoring.

Then, forcing their way down the field, Oak found themselves on Midway’s 11-yard line with a pass from junior quarterback Montrell Bolton to senior wide receiver Tyler Hudson.

Bolton and the Panther offense kept the intensity up with a touchdown pass to senior receiver CJ Watson, giving Oak an early 7-0 lead.

“There’s no better feeling than helping my team put points on the board,” Watson said. “Celebrating with my team is awesome, too.”

Next taking the field was Oak’s kickoff team who took the energy from the score and used it to force a fumble from Midway’s senior middle linebacker JJ Davis. With quick hands, sophomore Kason Tullos snagged possession.

“Recovering the fumble was a game changer and I was full of adrenaline and excitement,” Tullos said. “Once I got back to the sideline, we all jumped around and celebrated.”

Ben Stewart
Celebrating like a proud father, senior tackle Garrett Butler hoists freshman running back Charles ‘Tank’ Garrett into the air after a big score for the rookie back. Junior wide receiver John Diggins and sophomore center Mason James prepare to join in. “The boys’ character and discipline played a far bigger role in their successful season than conventional athletic measurement alone,” Mason’s father, Rick James, said. “Teamwork and brotherhood fashioned an outstanding football team that finished with a truly memorable season.”

After another attempt to best the KO Panthers, Midway was forced to punt after another 4-and-out late in the 1st quarter. There was a bad snap during the punt which gave Oak’s return team enough time to recover the ball all the way at Midway’s 17-yard line.

Again, Taylor took the ball on a big run all the way too Midway’s 7-yard line. And with another run from Taylor, Oak’s offense was able to put the ball on Midway’s 1-yard line.

Freshman running back Charles ‘Tank’ Garrett finished the drive for the Panthers with a go-ahead 1-yard touchdown putting Oak up 14-0 with 45 seconds left in the first quarter.

The second quarter started off with a bang for the Oak defense with a fumble recovery from senior middle linebacker AJ Roberts, putting the Panther offense on Midways 23-yard line.

“I just saw the ball pop out and took the opportunity,” Roberts said.

Senior kicker Seth Morgan topped off the defense’s fumble recovery with a field goal, putting Oak up 17-0.

Throughout the rest of the first half, the defense kept the intensity up and forced Midway them to punt once again. Then the offense capped of the half with a long touchdown pass from quarterback Bolton to junior wide receiver John Diggins, giving Oak a commanding 24-0 lead.

“The thought of being able to help my team was great,” Diggins said.

Starting the second half of play, Oak’s offense took to the field and Taylor started the second half with a threatening 22-yard run.

However, Midway came back from the half ready to pounce and hit hard. The pocket collapsed for Bolton and he found himself scrambling. The Midway defense forced a fumble, recovered it and returned it for a touchdown, narrowing the Panthers lead 24-7 to start the 3rd quarter.

Jacob McCready
After the seconds ticked away and the field had cleared, the Panthers ended their fight for state with an impressive 10-3 record. The proud parents and fans show their appreciation by doing a congratulatory high five for the coaches, trainers and players. Throughout the season, even in district play, Oak was often considered an underdog, so making it to the 3rd round of playoffs was an especially sweet accomplishment. “This team’s work ethic sets them apart from others along with their faith,” Jackie Flynn, mother of senior wide receiver CJ Flynn, said. “Coach Glenn [and the other coaches] set a great example … how to be a better person, husband and father.”

For the rest of the 3rd quarter and into the 4th, Midway’s offense found their rhythm and brought the hammer down hard on the Panthers.

Despite two strong fourth quarter 20-plus yard runs for Taylor and a field goal by Morgan, the Panthers capped off their points at 27 with Midway still pushing for more. Junior corner Dominic Morris also put pressure on Midway, but Waco scored twice more and edged past Klein Oak with just minutes left, squeaking past Oak, 27-28.

At the close of the game, Head Coach Jason Glenn told the boys to hold their heads high because they played a hard-fought game and had a season to be proud of.

The loyal fans who drove up to cheer on their favorite team also said they were proud of the young men on the field and their record was proof they had played #allin #allyear.

“The pride I feel for my son and his team this year is truly unexplainable,” Jennifer Capps, mom of senior outside linebacker Dayton Capps, said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better senior year for my son and his teammates. They showed us the true meaning of what ALL IN means.”

The Panthers ended their successful season 10-3 overall and 6-2 in district play.

Ben Stewart
Having made the drive to College Station for the game, students like seniors Courtney and Hailey Adams, Kaylee White, Isabella Sharayha, and Catherine Crawford, received spirit items like pom-poms, cow bells and clappers from the Standleaders. “The Standleaders passed out the cow bells so that the stands could be loud and to bring excitement to the crowd,’ senior Standleader Maggie Crowl said. “The excitement in the stands as the game was great each time we were about to score.”