SAINT JO, Texas — With the festivities of Homecoming serving as the backdrop, the Saint Jo Panthers have the opportunity to make a statement in the six-man world as the Throckmorton Greyhounds come to town.
Saint Jo is off to their best start since 2010, under the guidance of a first year head coach no less. Derek Schlieve spent a year as the head coach in Trent before making the move to the Texoma region, and was quick to implement a new system — fortunately the team was just as quick to pick it up.
“We wanted a multiple set, yet one that was easy to learn,” said the coach. “We want to be fundamentally sound, yet simple.”
It’s this simplicity which has guided the Panthers to a 4-1 record, currently on a four game win streak after dropping the season opener to a strong Tioga bunch. Since then however, Saint Jo has dominated behind an offense which has scored an average of 54 points per game in all five contests, and a defense which hasn’t allowed an opponent to come closer than 24 points in their four wins.
“I think the chemistry is the team’s strongest point right now,” said Schlieve. “The bond the players have developed, that’s our strength.Any time you bring in a new staff, there’s a lot of thing to learn,” the coach continued. “They’ve done a good job of grasping it all.”
The Panthers notched an important win last week, topping Savoy 62-38; the first win over the Cardinals in five outings, against a team who hired previous Saint Jo coach Chad Tallon in the offseason.
“Satisfying,” Schlieve proclaimed. “Anytime there’s a chance you try to make things as smooth as possible, to put it all together and get a win was extremely satisfying.”
Saint Jo has one more big test before 12-1A DI begins in two weeks, as they play host to a Throckmorton team who earned their first win on the season last week, defeating a decent Newcastle team 42-32. The Greyhounds haven’t endured an 0-4 since 1999, but the team has performed well in the last two outings — hanging close to a potent Knox City team in the first half, and breaking through to notch the win last week.
Throckmorton has averaged only 26.2 points per game in 2017, but a win should give the offense confidence to shine.
“There’s a reason they won three of the last six championships,” said Schlieve. “They’re extremely talented, well coached, and they will be scrappy. We’re excited for the opportunity for this game to be a solid measuring stick.”
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