Quarterbacks are meant to be leaders. A player that the rest of the team can rally around when times are bad. The Imbler football team has a good one in Kyle Johnson.
Quarterbacks are meant to be leaders. A player that the rest of the team can rally around when times are bad.
The Imbler football team has a good one in Kyle Johnson.
As a senior, Johnson has led the Panthers to a 9-1 record, including eight straight wins.
But, Johnson is hoping for three more wins. That is the number it would take to bring home a state title.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Johnson said. “You want to go as far as you can in your final year. We got to the semifinals last year, and we’re a win away from that.”
Standing in front of Imbler and the semifinals in the Class 1A playoffs is Triad.
The Timberwolves are fresh off defeating a different member of the Special District 4, Powder Valley.
Triad held on to defeat the Badgers 38-34 in Klamath Falls last Saturday.
The Timberwolves will have their hands full with a team that’s grown throughout the course of the season.
“We had a young team this year,” Johnson said. “There were some holes that we needed to fill. The young guys did a great job of stepping up.”
Defensively, Johnson noted the play of Tyler Tandy.
The sophomore helped turn around a defense that is allowing 22.4 points per game. But, 100 of the 224 points scored against the Panthers came in the first two games.
Offensively, Clint Porter, Johnson said has added a new wrinkle to what Imbler can do. Porter emerged as the tightened that the Panthers have been looking for after the graduation of Casey Robertson.
Porter showcased that during the 59-14 win against Perrydale in the opening round of the playoffs.
He broke off two runs for for 78 yards, both went for touchdowns.
“Klint has come a long way,” Johnson said. “He can block, and he can run. That has added a different option to the offense.”
As any good quarterback does, Johnson gives the offensive line much of the credit of the success of the offense. The Panthers are averaging 58.6 points per game this season, fifth best in Class 1A.
“The offensive line does a great job making holes for the running game,” Johnson said. “They also do an amazing job keeping defenders off of me in the passing game. We have big, strong guys. There’s a lot of weight being thrown around there.”
The obvious focus for Triad falls into the Panthers’ backfield. Joe Griffin demands constant attention. The junior has 1,553 rushing yards this season on 128 attempts, a 12.2 yards per carry average. Griffin has 32 rushing touchdowns on the season. But, the running back doesn’t always stay in the backfield. Griffin lines up outside too, where he’s caught 27 passes for 719 yards with 12 touchdowns.
“Joe is the kind of running back that everybody wants,” Johnson said. “He can do it all. Joe is an excellent runner, but can be dangerous catching the ball too.”
Imbler has a long running football tradition. The Panthers have been to the playoffs for seven out of the last eight seasons. Imbler’s best stretch came from 2007 through 2009, appearing in three straight title games, winning one.
The constant through all those seasons, and more, has been head coach Lee Lowe. Lowe is in his 33rd season at the helm of the Panthers. Johnson said that he is the true secret weapon for the team.
“Coach Lowe has seen everything,” Johnson said. “He knows what teams are going to try and do, and he gets us into the right play. Experience means a lot, and coach Lowe has that. It’s been great playing for him for four seasons.”