There is no rest for the weary as Chapel Hill closes out the 2014 football season on Friday by taking on the Buccaneers in a Region 5-AAAAA game at Allatoona High School. The game will mercifully end the season for the Panthers but not without the pain of having to go through the No. 1 team in the region and the No. 2 ranked team in the state in 5A.
From game one, the season has been a struggle for Chapel Hill. The team has battled with injuries and off field issues, which has led to a youth movement and never bodes well for teams in that first year when the players are still getting familiar with football at the high school level.
The Panthers played much better through the first three games of the year, before injuries started to take their tole. Chapel Hill then went into learning mode as they battled through tough loss after tough loss. During this run, the Panthers were shut out in three of four games. While the young group has gained experience, Chapel Hill has started playing better over the last two weeks, scoring 10 points against New Manchester and 22 points at Paulding.
Last week, against the Patriots, Chapel Hill was in the game at the halfway point. The score was knotted at 20 with two quarters to play and early in the third quarter, the Panthers took a 22-20 lead. However, Paulding scored 21 unanswered points to win the game.
Afterwards, coach Justin DeShon was not happy with the way the game was called.
“I’m disappointed in how poorly that game was officiated. It was bad,” DeShon said following the game. “It was inconsistent. They didn’t do a good job of managing the game. They hurt us with some bad calls, inadvertent whistles that cost us a chance to be in the ball game. It’s tough to do that to your kids.”
One of these calls cost Chapel Hill greatly in the third quarter. Down 34-22, it appeared the Panthers had recovered a muffed punt by the Patriots. After a discussion by the officials, Chapel Hill was forced to re-kick. DeShon said he was told by the officials that Chapel Hill did not have possession of the ball when the whistle was blown inadvertently.
Earlier in the game there was a fight involving players on both teams. Two Patriots were ejected and five Panthers were sent off the field. However, this too was not without official controversy.
“They kicked a kid out of the game that didn’t even come off the bench,” said DeShon.
While there were struggles, Chapel Hill showed positive signs in the rushing game. The team, led by running back Tyre Shelton, rushed for roughly 300 yards.
Now Chapel Hill will face its toughest task of the season in Allatoona. The Bucs have been unstoppable, led by the arguably the best running back this season in the region, Russell Halimon. Last year Hailmon was a backup to Joshua Bettistea. However, Bettistea missed the first four games of the year, opening the door for Hailmon, who has rushed for 1,593 yards on 237 carries. He has scored 18 times.
This will be the first meeting between the two schools. Allatoona is 8-0 in the region and 9-0 overall. Chapel Hill is 0-8 in the region and 0-9 overall. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.