In the wake of their commanding victory over Whitworth, the Panthers (1-1) returned to practice Tuesday in preparation for their upcoming game against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (1-1) Saturday, Oct. 4 at 1 p.m.
Excited to get the first win of the season, the Panthers quickly shifted their focus to Claremont and the start of Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) competition.
“We’re really excited for league play because now it’s time to see who we are,” said senior linebacker Greg Johnson. “It’s time to perform right now and we can’t hold anything back.”
This mentality was on display against the Whitworth Pirates, as Chapman bounced back from a tight first half with aggressive defensive that set up the offense. Heading into the third quarter up 28-20, the Panthers had been unable to stop a Pirates offense that spread the field and forced defenders to make quick decisions.
Yet, key halftime adjustments paid off as the defense opened the third quarter by forcing turnovers on each of Whitworth’s first three drives. Johnson said that the team has confidence in one another and never gives up.
“At halftime we understood how much better we could be playing and we went out there and showed it,” he said. “Our confidence and swagger is through the roof and we just need to come out playing like that.”
However, Johnson said that the team has nothing to brag about and hasn’t proved anything in the SCIAC conference. The Panthers also recognize that they can’t let the seven straight league games overwhelm them.
“Even though we’re really excited for league, we still have to treat Claremont like a normal game,” said senior running back Jeremiah McKibbins.
McKibbins had a breakout game against Whitworth, running for 57 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. It was the first time McKibbins has gotten into the end zone since 2012 after missing all of last season to a knee injury.
Yet he was quick to turn the attention back to the team and what it needed to do to be successful.
“One thing we focused on after the first game was the little things and maintaining focus,” McKibbins said. “Instead of looking at Linfield negatively we looked at our mistakes and came back with the win.”
While the Panthers were able to fix some of their initial problems, Johnson said the goal is to make those adjustments before the game starts. Confident and composed, the Panthers are ready to get started with league competition.
“We couldn’t be more anxious right now and know that there’s a lot of eyes on us,” Johnson said. “We’re good enough that as long as we play our game, we expect to outplay each of our opponents.”