Forsyth High School’s football team found reason to celebrate on its opening drive of Friday night’s game at Stockton.

The Panthers took the opening kickoff, drove down the field and struck first, on a touchdown pass from Hunter Creson to Jon Deroo.

After that, it was too much for the Panthers to handle.

Too much of Stockton’s passing game, and too many missed assignments in a 46-8 loss.

“It was a pretty rough night,” first-year Forsyth coach Andy McFarland said. “It was a disappointing night, because we didn’t play as well as I hoped we were going to. 

“Stockton is a good team, as all the teams in are conference are. They’ve been playing football for a long time, and we’re a young program with a young team, a lot of sophomores and juniors on the team. We’re not where we want to be yet.”

The loss was the fourth in a row for the Panthers, who were 2-1 after the opening three games of the season before taking on a series of deep and talented programs.

It was Stockton’s passing game that gave Forsyth the most trouble. The Tigers run out of a flex-bone formation and concentrate on throwing the ball all over the field.

Forsyth’s offense struggled after the touchdown drive on the opening possession.

“We couldn’t really move the ball after that (first possession),” McFarland said. “They had a bunch of big pass plays in the first half that gave us some trouble.

“There was no surprise (by what Stockton did). They have one guy they love to get the ball to, and we weren’t able to slow them down.”

Up next for the Panthers is a road game at Strafford on Friday.

The Indians are 3-4 and have lost their last three games. That includes a 29-20 home loss to Skyline last week. Strafford’s last victory was a 54-14 decision over Stockton in Week 4.

McFarland said Strafford will present some of the same challenges that Stockton did, with a potentially potent passing game.

“Strafford is more of a pass-first team, so there won’t be a surprise when they’re flinging it around,” he said. “We’re just going to have to try to do a better job of slowing them job.

“They spread the field out and get the ball to their athletes in space. If we’re going to be successful, we’re going to have to do a better job defending against their passing attack than we did against Stockton.”

Forsyth will close the regular season with a home game against Buffalo on Oct. 25.

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