McCOMB - Kris Alge favors an up-tempo quick-hit pass attack. He always has.
But sometimes, you just have to adapt a little. And Alge, it turns out, has that trait.
Power suddenly was the name of the game for the Panthers and they proved more than capable in piling up 301 rushing yards in a season-opening 39-7 slam of Calvert at Doc Miller Field here Friday night.
"Well, we've got a younger quarterback and several kids who are going both ways. We felt like our offensive line is pretty good and we have decent running backs, so that was the way to go," said Alge, whose club last year won 13 straight games before losing to eventual Division VI state champion Marion Local in three overtimes in the regional championship game.
The ringleaders from that team are gone. The group included Dalton Buck, who passed for nearly 2,000 yards, All-Ohioan Jerry Brown, who had 1,100 rushing yards and another 500-plus yards receiving, and running mate Cody Wilson, who had more that 1,350 yards in total offense.
There are eight returning seniors and, well, a nice mix for a power running game even if it originates from a shotgun set.
McComb stunned the Senecas twice in the game's opening eight minutes.
First, there was a 12-play, 67-yard scoring drive that took more than five minutes off the starting clock. The trek featured four first downs, including the only pass - a 16-yarder from Clay Grubb to Mitch Shroeder on a fourth-and-15 play.
Andrew Gibson, who had a 27-yard burst in the drive, got the score on a 1-yard slam.
Calvert hoped for a quick response, but instead, Shroeder was perfectly positioned and intercepted a Tyler Long pass at the Seneca 17. Five plays later, Grubb hit Dalton Auchmuty with a 9-yard scoring pass for a 13-0 lead with 4:10 still play in the opening period.
"We worked bubble (screen defense) all week long," Alge said. "We called it out, we thought they might go bubble and there it was. (Shroeder) was right there. It was a big play that I think took the wind out of their sails."
The Panthers posted three scores on their first three possessions when Grubb hit Shroeder for a 6-yard score to finish a 51-yard drive after the Senecas had turned the ball over on downs.
Calvert was reeling but had a momentary spark when Austin Ball (105 yards, 12 carries) broke through on a quick-hitter and raced 65 yards for a touchdown. Mike Smith's kick made it 19-7 with 10:34 left in the half.
Things were looking up when Austin Perry recovered a high-snap fumble two plays later on the Panther 46. But Long came up a yard short on fourth down and McComb powered for another long drive with Grubb getting a 4-yard TD run for a 27-7 edge at the half.
"As long as Coach Alge has been their skipper, he's never been a ground-and-pound guy, but obviously tonight, he was, and very successfully," Calvert coach Todd Fox said. "He's a great coach who gets his team prepared and they were the more prepared team tonight."
Dysert added a pair of fourth-quarter scores for the Panthers, one of them a 16-yard interception return.
"I thought our defense did a really nice job on their quarterback," Alge said. "He's a heck of an athlete, a 4.5 guy who runs the ball well, but we really contained him tonight.
Meanwhile, newcomer Grubb had a solid night with 162 yards rushing and a couple TD passes. Dysert and Gibson combined another 130 rushing yards.
"We were able to control the ball more than normal," Alge said. "We're used to a fast-paced game but tonight, with all the cramping out there, we were trying to milk the clock a little. It was different. It was a challenge for me a little bit, too."
While the opening loss was a disappointment, Fox said his club has all of its goals in waiting.
"They played a great game, but I'm more disappointed in the way we played," Fox said. "A veteran team like this can't make all these mistakes.
"They were the rookies for the most part; they replaced a lot of starters out there," he said. "But our guys looked like deer in headlights and walked around like they didn't know what was going on and again, that falls on me as a head coach.
"We're going to take a look at what we're doing to get ready for a Friday night and regroup."