Panthers to host Pirates for the historic rivalry
By Luke Johnson
One of the greatest high school football rivalry games will likely decide who gets a playoff bid and who doesn’t.
“If we lose tomorrow, we shouldn’t be in the open division,” said Pittsburg head coach Vic Galli.
The No. 1 and 2 seeds for the North Coast Section Open Division appear be locked in for De La Salle (9-0) and Liberty (9-0, 4-0 BVAL). In contention for potentially one of the other two seeds are Antioch (7-2, 2-2) and Pittsburg (6-3, 3-1), who play in the 100th Big Little Game Saturday.
Galli said Antioch’s greatest strength is its quarterback Willem Karnthong, who has passed for 1,120 yards and rushed for 406 this season.
Karnthong has 43 career touchdown passes and is seven away from breaking the Panthers’ all-time record.
The Pirates have to overcome injuries from star players to win the contest. Washington-bound nose guard Jacob Bandes and starting quarterback Tre Turner are ruled out for the game.
“Pittsburg’s greatest strength is the front seven — specifically, that triangle that anchors the middle: [Jack] Lacy, Bandes and [De’Jon] Benton,” said Antioch quarterback coach Juan Corral. “All 3 of those guys are Top 5 all time in their school’s history at their positions.”
Another weapon in Pittsburg’s arsenal is Willie Harts III, who has scored touchdowns via passing, rushing, receiving, interception, kick return and punt return this season.
Other key players for the Panthers consist of wide receiver Gaudie Campbell and linebacker Vinny Ballardo. Campbell is tied for most all-time receiving touchdowns at Antioch with 18 and Ballardo has averaged 100-plus tackles per season since he was a sophomore.
Game time is 1:30 p.m. at Antioch High School’s Eels Stadium at W. 18th at L Streets.