Steers hope to stop running Panthers

Two-a-days are over, scrimmage games are over and football, real football has returned to Big Spring.The Steers will be hosting the Fort Stockton Panthers this Friday night as the 2011 campaign gets under way. Coming off of last year's disappointing 5-5 season, the Big Spring bunch hopes to get this year off to a good start. Last season, the Steers handled the panthers without too much trouble in a 20-0 road win.“The Panthers are a running team,” Big Spring Head Coach Phillip Ritchey said. “They are very good at sweeping around the end, with inside sweeps and fullback traps thrown in. They have a big tight end and they will try to pass some to him,but we expect most of their plays to be on the ground. It is what they are best at and they had a lot of success running the ball in their scrimmages this year.”The Steers will be looking to extend a three-year opening day win streak Friday night and hopefully build on any momentum it might bring. But more than anything, they are just ready to play.“We are very excited to get back on the field,” Coach Ritchey said. “This is what we started training for almost a year ago, opening day. The kids have worked hard during two-a-days, the off season and in the scrimmage games. This is their reward; they get to play football Friday night.How do the Steers plan to counter Fort Stockton's running game? The Steers themselves have a bit of a running game. In fact, it is what people are expecting them to do this year, but Coach Ritchey says they have more than just a ground attack in their play book.“Of course we are going to run,” Coach Ritchey said. “But we are going to throw more than anyone probably expects us to. Garrett(Stuteville) has been progressing nicely and we plan to use his arm to keep opponents off balance. We want to run when they expect pass and pass when they expect run.”The season-opener will be held at Memorial Stadium, with a 7:30 p.m. start time scheduled.