Panthers finish season with winning record

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Panorama prepares to snap the ball against Central Decatur during their Homecoming game Sept. 14. The Panthers finished their season 5-4 overall, with three losses to playoff teams. Photo submitted.

PANORA — The football season for Panorama stood at 3-4 after a three-game losing skid, but the Panthers rebounded for strong wins in each of their final two games to finish 5-4 overall and 2-3 in Class 1A District 8.

The season was the first under new head coach Mike Kazlaurich, and the Panthers played well in all contests. Three of their four losses were to playoff teams, with Panorama falling at I-35, Van Meter and Mount Ayr while dropping a one-point contest at home to Clarinda.

The team combined to finish 112-of-206 passing for 1,690 yards and 13 touchdowns against eight interceptions. The ground game added 1,543 yards on 342 carries while scoring 23 TDs to make for a balanced attack.

Quarterbacks Luke South (71-127-5) and Alejandro Mendez (41-78-3) were both effective, with South throwing for 987 yards and eight TDs and Mendez for 703 yards and five scores.

Gracen Welberg was the chief target, with the senior finishing second in the district in both total receptions (34) and yards (526) while scoring five times. Allias Stahl (29-358, 2 TDs) and Zach Rizzuti (20-329, 4 TDs) were also deadly in the aerial game.

South led all rushers with 627 yards and nine TDs on 128 carries. Trey Cobb (84-429, 7 TDs), Mendez (87-305, 4 TDs) and Spencer Hunt (11-126, 2 TDs) also played key roles in the rushing attack.

Cobb was second in the district in total tackles with 85.5 stops. Trent Hambleton had 47 tackles and Dominic Walker 37.5, with Hunter Holmes making 35 stops and Welberg 33.

Welberg led the district with four fumble recoveries, totaling 130 return yards and a score. He was second in the district with four interceptions, with Walker picking off two passes for 22 yards, with one theft resulting in a 21-yard pick-six.

The team finished with 10 interceptions and 14 fumble recoveries, with Welberg returning a kickoff 85 yards for a TD and Rizzuti a kick 89 yards for a score.

South, a junior, is now 252-478-23 for 3,321 yards and 28 TDs through the air in three years, despite splitting time with Mendez this season. He was 1,174 career rushing yards and 18 TDs on 306 carries.

Ten seniors — Cobb, Holmes, Hunt, Stahl, Welbert, Garret Fox, Matthew Greenlee, Jacob Holwegner, Cain Beuharth and Koltin Sloss — were on the roster for Panorama this year. The Panthers were a combined 24-14 in their four prep seasons.

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