CORTLANDT MANOR – Hours ahead of Friday night’s annual rendezvous between Panas and Lakeland, Panas head coach Dan Patronik called his Panthers the “stepchild” of the school district they share.
Panas looked more like the big brother playing keepaway from his younger sibling during the first half Friday, holding its crosstown foes to just under three minutes of time of possession.
Panthers sophomore David Louis capped an exhaustive 8:30 opening drive with an 11-yard rushing touchdown, the first of his two scores in an 18-6 win at Walter Panas High School.
“It means everything,” Louis said of the rivalry. “I can’t wait to go see (Lakeland) and tell them, ‘We beat you guys.’ “
Panas (3-3) evened its season record, as well as its series record against Lakeland under Patronik, who took over in 2011.
Lakeland has owned the head-to-head series since the schools separated their football programs more than a decade ago, winning nine of the last 11 meetings entering Friday.
“I make sure that they know that,” Patronik said, before the game. “I let them know about the history, how long it’s been.”
In a night of wet-and-wild misery, Lakeland (2-3) could not generate anything. The Hornets went three-and-out on their first two possessions of the game — their only two of the first half — then fumbled the second-half kickoff back to Panas.
Panas marched down the field after taking over before scoring on its first possession of the half with a 2-yard run by quarterback Brandon Hodge. The Panthers’ domination up until that point gave fans the confidence to celebrate with an eruption of confetti in the stands.
Lakeland quickly halted the premature celebration with an interception midway through the third quarter by junior Tommy Barnett. The pick, in addition to three crucial Panas penalties, led to a 2-yard score by Sean Makar. Louis pounded in his second score of the game with just under five minutes left in regulation to all but solidify a Panthers win.
The light drizzle throughout the game put a small damper on a night that was filled with celebrations for Panas. The team honored 11 players and five cheerleaders for “Senior Night” before winning the game, which was the 500th career call for Panthers announcer Dave Canning.
Patronik said he planned to celebrate the win with a cigar and a glass of 12-year-old Glendronach scotch.