The record books will show that the Knoxville Panther football team finished its season with a losing record, but if you ask Coach Troy Rider, the growth he has seen in his players, on and off the field, indicates the strength and maturity of winning young men.
The Panthers wrapped their 2012 campaign on the road with a 19-13 loss to the Oskaloosa Indians. On what threatened to be a cold, windy and drizzly night, the weather cleared for Oskaloosa's Senior Night and the varsity game.
Oskaloosa's opening drive did not go very far and were forced to punt. The Panthers took over on their own 45 and drove down to the Oskaloosa 20. Tanner Dunkin missed the field goal attempt.
The offenses for both teams struggled for much of the first quarter. Mistakes by the Panther defense and special teams, in the form of penalties, assisted the Indians' late in the first to set them up with a first and goal on the five to start the second.
It did not take long for Nate Van Veldhuizen, the sophomore running back for Oskaloosa, to take it in for the first score of the night. Following the extra point, Oskaloosa's advantage over the Panthers was 7-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, Knoxville's Ryan Douglas took off for one of many fine kick returns he had on the night, taking the ball down to the 35. Unfortunately, the Panthers could not get the ball downfield and were forced to punt.
The Indians' offense did not have much success either, compliments of a tough Panther defense. Oskaloosa got it together, late in the quarter once again, to reach the end zone on the legs of Mason Wisse. The Panthers blocked the extra point attempt, leaving the score at 13-0 with 22 seconds left in the half.
Knoxville came out fighting after halftime. Douglas got the drive started with a nice kickoff return. He ended it by catching a touchdown pass from Gerritt Davis to put the Panthers on the board. The PAT was missed, but the Panthers were on the board, 13-6.