It's not that the Priory football team wanted to miss Saturday's Mission Trails 8-man football jamboree at Pinewood. Rather, the Panthers preferred getting their season underway as soon as possible.
"We have high expectations and wanted the earliest start possible," Priory coach Doug Sargent said after the Panthers dismantled visiting Cornerstone Christian-Antioch, 72-0, in a nonleague game Friday. "We're anxious and we couldn't wait. We've been fired up for a long time."
The Cougars are taking their first steps toward resurrecting their program. Priory has one of its most experienced teams ever. Senior running back-linebacker Keyshawn Ashford, who scored five touchdowns and was a force on defense, was tough to stop last year. It's near impossible this season.
"He's the real deal," Sargent said. "He's capable of scoring any time you give him the ball. He's a student of the game and learns quickly."
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Ashford showed his ability. After catching a short pass from senior quarterback Adrian LaValle, he turned it into a 60-yard touchdown, making several would-be tacklers miss over the course of his run.
Jaeden Barker scored twice and helped Priory get into good field position as a punt returner. Matt George and Jashae Williams also scored for the Panthers, who host Stuart Hall-San Francisco at 3 p.;m. Friday.
"There's a lot we need to work on to get ready for Stuart Hall." Sargent said. "Our tackling needs to get better."
Erik Larsen blocked a punt, Isaac Roybal recovered it and Muti Shuman disrupted Cornerstone's offense.
"It was good first game," Sargent said. "Small schools go in cycles. Five years ago we had 12 seniors and now we're back to 12 seniors (out of a roster of 24). It feels like the school climate is happy right now. We've built a new science building, a new track and locker room and remodeled the pool. So it's everything, academics and athletics."