One may look at the final score of 42-6 and believe that Knoxville’s effort in its final home game of 2018 might not have been there against the Oskaloosa Indians, but for Head Coach Eric Kellar and all in attendance, we know the odds the Panthers were facing.
“I still think they played well,” Kellar told the Tribune following the loss. “I thought we played well.”
Indeed, they did. But when looking across the line at 6’9″, 230-pound University of Northern Iowa basketball recruit Cole Henry, the “Big, black D” – as the student section chants for them – didn’t really look the part.
Even though Henry was 19/24 for 338 yards and two touchdowns against the Panthers, his biggest gains were few and far between. If not for a few blown coverages, the Indians’ point total would not have been as impressive.
“Oskaloosa is a top-three team in the state,” Kellar added. “They beat Pella. I like the way our guys kept their heads up and kept fighting throughout the game.”
And fight they did. The Panthers ran for a net 120 yards. They committed zero turnovers and had several tackles for a loss.
Kieren Nichols had six total tackles, with Ben Olson close behind with 5.5 and Brady Pearson with five. Nichols also had Knoxville’s only touchdown, a 35-yard run that came late in the game when it was already clear that this was not the Panthers’ night. The looming loss did not stop him, nor his line, from pushing the Indians back to get on the board.
The Panthers are now 3-5 on the season as they head into Newton Friday night for the regular season finale. Newton has a record of 4-4 and is coming off a 49-17 loss to the Pella Dutch last Friday.