Paradise moves to 2-0 with win over Henrietta

By Richard Greene | Published Friday, September 7, 2018.

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The Paradise Panthers couldn’t capitalize on multiple chances to put the Henrietta Bearcats in a deep hole in the first half Friday night.

Paradise was turned away three times after getting into the red zone, and twice came away empty after starting possessions inside the Henrietta 20.

After halftime, the Panthers flipped the script, scoring on its first two second-half possessions before Jack Ishmael put the game away with an electrifying 60-yard punt return. Paradise added another score late on the way to a 35-12 victory at Panther Stadium.

“Last week, we were kind of sloppy like that too, where we had a lot of missed opportunities,” said Paradise coach Joe Koch. “That was our focus this week. We came out, first drive fine. After that, are you kidding me? At halftime, we made a few blocking adjustments; but what it really came down to is learning how to win. We just haven’t won around here in so long on a consistent basis. The kids are just starting to learn. This was a big step. We haven’t hit it yet, but there’s going to be that watershed moment.”

Paradise moved to 2-0 with the victory.

“It’s great. I can’t remember the last time Paradise was 2-0,” Ishmael said.

Ishmael played a big part in the victory, catching a 35-yard pass for the Panthers’ opening touchdown and drilling five extra points along with the game-breaking punt return.

“He’s tremendous. He’s really a leader on the team,” Koch said. “He’s such a physical player. He plays on everything — every offense, defense and special teams. His personality rubs off on the team. His punt return really broke things open. He’s a catalyst.”

For Ishmael, he said the punt return was redemption after a fumble last week against S&S. He fielded the line drive punt on the run, broke into the open and held off an arm tackle inside the 20-yard line for the score.
Before the return, Wyatt Reeves and Trey Valentine found the end zone on runs of nine and seven yards in the third quarter to put the Panthers up 21-6.

Quarterback Jace Essig provided the nightcap with a 24-yard sprint to pay dirt. Essig finished with 74 yards on 16 carries. He added 68 yards through the air, completing four of his eight attempts with a touchdown and an interception.

“Jace did a much nicer job with his reads in the second half,” Koch said.

Paradise outgained Henrietta 257 to 147.

Henrietta landed the opening punch just 63 seconds into the game. Jonah Lyde hit Brandon Lee behind the Paradise secondary for a 77-yard touchdown. The Bearcats failed to convert the try leaving the door open for Paradise to take the lead two minutes later.

Henrietta did not cross the Paradise 40-yard line again until early in the fourth quarter.

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