Simply put, it was a big night in Quakertown.
The Panthers hit on all phases of their game in a 55-7 thumping of Wissahickon, but the scope was much bigger.
Their victory marked the 500th in school history, and the game also was recognized as their annual Childhood Cancer Awareness Night, as the community raised money for the disease. Six children from the district, who are in remission, were honored before the game and participated in the coin toss. The entire student body was dressed in black and yellow.
“It was really cool to get the children out on the field with the players,” said Quakertown head coach George Banas. “I think it’s a great program, and we are extremely proud to be part of it.
“This is much bigger than our staff that is here now and the players that are here now. It takes a long time and a lot of coaches and a lot of players to get to 500.”
Quakertown (2-4), which was coming off a 30-12 loss to Cheltenham last week, wasted little time getting on the board, as it took advantage of a fumble recovery early in the game and held a 14-0 lead after the first quarter.
Junior running back Tyler Merwarth, who ran for 64 yards, scored the Panthers’ first two touchdowns on the ground that staked them to a 14-0 lead.
Quakertown kept the pressure offensively and defensively on Wissahickon in the second quarter, as it blocked a field goal attempt and added a pair of touchdowns for a commanding 28-0 lead.
The Panthers sealed the game with a score right before the half when Josh McGovern’s rushing touchdown gave them a 35-0 lead and sent the mercy rule into effect in the second half.
Merwarth caught a touchdown pass in the second half to complete his three-touchdown evening.
Quakertown quarterback Will Steich was a perfect 8-for-8 for 184 yards and three touchdowns. Ben Kave caught a pair of touchdowns, one a 77-yarder and another for 24 yards.
At the end of the game, numerous alumni from teams throughout the years joined the present players on the field.
“From the first play of the game, we forced a fumble and we just got rolling,” Merwarth said. “There wasn’t anything they could do to stop our offense all night.
“This is a big one for us and for the community. “It’s something special for all of us. We’re never going to forget it. It was a big night.”
Banas relished the night during which football became more of a complement than the main attraction. The Panthers will look to stay on track when they host Upper Dublin Friday.
“It’s just great to have students who battled cancer here as part of the night and know that we’re fighting with them,” said Banas, who lost a 6-year-old nephew to cancer. “We’re fundraising money for them, and we give it right back to the students that are in our district. It’s awesome.
“The players played with so much emotion because they’re not just playing for themselves. They we’re playing for them, and they were playing for the people we lost, too.”