Gilmore's prowess opens the door for others

Football coaches always talk about the running game setting up the passing attack, but never was that more on display than last Friday night at Spiegelberg Stadium.

With South Medford running back Kevin Gilmore continually bullying his way to positive yardage against North Medford, the focus most certainly went his direction. And while some players might let their ego get in the way when the ball doesn't come their way snap after snap, that wasn't the case with the Panther receivers. Watching Gilmore carry the ball 32 times for 217 yards was a welcome sight.

"I love it because he's such a good (running back)," South Medford senior receiver Josh Havird said. "Everyone keys on him and it seems like there's no focus on the outside when he's running like that."

The Panthers ran the football seven straight times before looking to the air, and that resulted in one-on-one coverage on the perimeter without much safety support. On the play-action pass, junior quarterback Jack Singler dropped a nice ball into the waiting hands of Havird in the right corner of the end zone for the game's first touchdown.

Singler wound up taking to the air only 10 times, but made nearly all of them all count with eight completions. Two of those went for 21- and 36-yard touchdowns to Havird.

"When we've got a back like Kevin, everyone's keying on him and every once in a while (South head coach Bill Singler) will say, 'Havird, try to sneak out there and we'll see if we can hit you,'" Havird added.

Still, sometimes good luck and great athleticism make as much difference as teams bringing seven or eight defenders into the box.

When the younger Singler sent a third-and-three pass to the right sideline on South's first drive of the third quarter, the pass seemed ill-advised at the time. That's when Panther senior Austin Griffin stepped up for his team, though, ranging high above Black Tornado safety Darren Cossette and cornerback David Nix to pull down the pass.

In the next instant, Griffin turned away from the defense and raced 37 yards downfield to put his team in prime position for its most pivotal touchdown of the contest. South later scored to go up 17-7 and then cruised to a 31-7 triumph.

"I think the key was the third-down play their tight end caught over on the sidelines," North head coach Jeff Olson said. "He makes a heck of a catch there because we had three guys standing right next to him. If we hold them there, who knows? But we didn't."

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AS MUCH AS SOUTH MEDFORD made plays to earn its fourth straight win in the 25th annual Black and Blue Game, North Medford certainly didn't do itself any favors.

The Black Tornado put forth some outstanding efforts last Friday when you consider the running lanes opened for Jesse Hornbrook and Jeremy Scottow and the leadership shown by Cory Pine in his first start as a varsity QB. North's players also didn't shy away from trying to combat Gilmore's punishing style.

But there also were the moments of confusion on the field that opened the door for the Panthers.

With North trailing only 17-7 in the third quarter, South faced a fourth-and-nine from the Tornado 39 and, after a little delay, sent its punting team out on the field. Seconds later, North Medford was flagged for having 12 players on the field.

With the setting now fourth-and-four at the North 34, the Panthers changed their minds and sent their offense on the field. But somehow the Tornado players weren't on the same page and North was again penalized for having 12 players on the field.

Those back-to-back miscues allowed the Panthers to gain a first down without doing anything more than lining up, and South scored three plays later to gain a comfortable 24-7 cushion with 9:20 left in the period.

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FUNDRAISING DRIVES come in all forms, but rarely are they literal. That won't be the case on Saturday thanks to a partnership between the Ford Motor Company — Butler Ford in particular — and Phoenix High School as part of the Drive One 4 UR School program.

For every person who test drives a new select Ford vehicle between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, Butler Ford will donate $20 to the high school. Phoenix High has the opportunity to raise up to $6,000 in the fundraiser, with proceeds earmarked for the school's weight room.

To date, Butler Ford has raised more than $16,000 for local high school students through this unique fundraiser. Butler Ford is located at 1977 Hwy. 99 North in Ashland.

Participants must be 18 or older and have a valid driver's license. There is a limit of one test drive per household.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com

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