If roster size were a determining factor, Imagine Prep-Superstition should have been an underdog in their Aug. 30 8-man football season opener at Imagine Prep-Surprise.

The Panthers had 25 fewer players than the Storm, but that became a minor factor, as IP-Superstition held on for a 26-24 victory - the first for IPS Head coach Jeremy Brigham.

“To defeat a team with 39 kids when we have 14, that’s exciting,” Coach Brigham said. “When we got off the bus, our kids were a little shell-shocked, and I had to motivate them before the game.”

Seth Highstreet scored on a 20-yard touchdown run and threw a 67-yard scoring pass to Jason Morgan. Ezekiel McGarran fired a 38-yard TD pass to Aiden Bridge, and ran for a 7-yard score. McGarran also ran for a 2-point conversion.

“Imagine Surprise and Imagine Superstition have been playing for that trophy for a long time, but the last time we played them was in 2017. So we get to keep the trophy again. It was a really good day for our football team,” Coach Brigham said. 

Along with four touchdowns and a 2-point conversion, the Panthers had 281 yards in total offense -- 148 rushing and 133 passing.

“We didn’t gas. There were a couple of times it looked like they might overtake us because they were ahead in the first and the third quarters. 

Coach Brigham cited the importance of key plays at the right time as a factor in the Panthers’ win.

“We were able to score a touchdown at the end of the game, and stopped them on a 2-point conversion -- linebacker Jeremy Brigham had that tackle. And we had a stop before halftime when it was 12-12,” Coach Brigham said, adding that “it’s a big deal when you get to coach your son.”

“We didn’t give up any long runs or returns on special teams, either.”

After nearly a month of preseason drills, the Panthers showed their coach that the hard work is starting to pay off.

“Our kids showed that they’re tough,” Coach Brigham said. “They didn’t show any quit, but did show that we need to re-wire some things and make sure we’re really prepared. We have to check our emotions, our passion, things that affect our decisions.

“But we showed that fight, and we were able to keep that trophy.”

The Panthers (1-0) host their home opener on Saturday (Sept. 7) against Phoenix Providence Prep at Prospector Park.  Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

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