Class AAAAA blog: Starr’s Mill back on region title path

It appears that Starr’s Mill has found itself. The Panthers, who have won, three straight Region 3 championship, have again put themselves in a position to do it again.

After losing three in a row, coach Chad Phillips’ team rose up to beat then-No. 10 Griffin last week and thrust itself in the consideration for another region title. Starr’s Mill (3-3, 1-1) moved into a four-way tie for second place behind Riverdale (5-1, 2-0). Starr’s Mill plays at Riverdale on Nov. 2.

“We’ve got four games left and we’ve got a chance,” Phillips said. “We’ve got some good competition ahead of us, but we’ve got a chance.”

Phillips said the three-game losing streak wasn’t necessarily a situation where the Panthers were playing poorly. They just couldn’t close the deal. 

“We were able to move the ball up and down the field, but we just haven’t been able to score,” Phillips said. “We finally started scoring once we got in the red zone.”

Starr’s Mill lost a 28-21 non-region game to Chapel Hill, a 28-10 decision to rival Sandy Creek and a 21-14 region contest to Jonesboro. 

“Even against Sandy Creek (the No. 6 team in Class AAAAAA) we moved the ball between the 20s,” Phillips said. “We just couldn’t score.”

The Griffin game could be a turnaround moment for the Panthers, who still run behind the old-school option. They’re good at it, too. They had a scoring drive against Griffin that consumed 10 minutes off the clock.

Hunter Lawson runs the show at quarterback and has thrown for 216 yards, just enough to be a threat. Ben Bodne (289 yards, four TDs) and Kalen Sims (231 yards) have been the most productive running backs.

Sims is finally rounding back into the form that made him an all-region tailback. He broke a bone in his foot in the playoffs and has finally gotten his confidence back. 

“He is back to playing like he had been,” Phillips said. 

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