Forsyth High School’s football team dropped a 38-8 decision at Strafford on Friday night.
It was the fifth consecutive loss for the Panthers, since a 36-6 victory over Greenfield in Week 3 left them with a 2-1 overall record.
While the latest loss left first-year coach Andy McFarland with some frustrating moments, he saw some signs of life and growth in his team.
Forsyth was within striking distance through the first half, including a kickoff return for a touchdown from Buck Sanders that cut the Strafford lead to 14-8.
After that, even as the Indians pulled away, the Panthers made their presence felt on the defensive side of the ball.
“We played well on defense and played hard,” McFarland said. “We had a couple of stops on fourth down in the red zone, one on fourth-and-goal from the 2, and we stopped them.
“That was an effort I liked to see, and an improvement from last week on effort.”
Execution on offense continues to be an issue for the Panthers.
With the team struggling to move the ball through the air, opposing defenses are loading up players near the line of scrimmage in an effort to stop the run.
“We are struggling to do the little things right,” McFarland said. “It’s hard to sustain a drive like that.
“Little mistakes on offense are adding up really quickly. It’s tough for me to see, since I’ve been an offensive coordinator for 11 years. We have a young team and young kids.”
Next up is a home game against Buffalo in the regular-season finale. The Bison are 6-2 and had a six-game winning streak end in a 34-14 loss to Fair Grove on Friday.
McFarland and the Panthers will focus on themselves as they prepare for Senior Night.
“We’ve talked about if we can just play hard for four quarters, we’ll be competitive with any team on schedule,” McFarland said.
The biggest headache for Forsyth going into the last regular-season game is Buffalo junior quarterback Jamen Smith, who can make a difference with his arm or his legs.
“Their QB is a great athlete,” McFarland said. “He has a lot of speed and is a tough kid. Hard to keep him contained.
“That’s the key for us and for everyone else that plays against him. We need to keep him from running all over the place and making plays.”