The curtain went up on the rivalry between Raymore-Peculiar and Belton Friday and for the seventh consecutive time since 2012, the Panthers showed who was the star of the show winning this Cass County competition 42-14 in front of a packed house on their Homecoming night.
For the first three weeks, Ray-Pec (3-1) had been giving up 33 points per game. But that all changed Friday what may have been the Panthers' most complete performance to date. But did head coach Tom Kruse see the improvement?
"From a big play standpoint, yes," he said. "We were able to limit the big play. We're still finding ourselves there in our defensive scheme, but two key turnovers in the first half, we turned them into points."
One was from linebacker Ian Hornbeck who returned an interception deep into Belton territory to later set up a 1-yard score from Gabe Shanklin.
Ray-Pec was running wild all night from junior Shanklin who had 106 yards and two scores and senior Brando Rayos who also reached triple figures with 129 yards and added another two touchdowns.
"Our line, they just keep going" Rayos said of the Panthers offensive line. "They don't stop. They keep pounding the ball. We were able to run up the middle and they controlled the line."
His head coach agreed.
"Really, I thought our offensive line took control of the game from midway through the third quarter through the fourth quarter, and I think they (Belton) were gassed," he said. "A running game will do that for you, and we know we've got to be better running the football, especially in our league. That was a good sign for us tonight."
Belton (1-3) may have been "gassed" by the fourth quarter, but the Pirates did keep it close through nearly three quarters with a Jamall Baker 6-yard run and an Andrew Clark to Antione Nunn Jr. 25-yard pass. They trailed 21-14 with 3:24 remaining in the third when Ray-Pec was able to put the ballgame away with a Grant Miller to Luke Grimm 30-yard score.
"I thought our O-line stuck up good the whole game, and that's the reason we beat them how we did," Miller said. "I thought our passing game struggled a little bit at first. We all made some mistakes. The O-line came through, and our running backs came through and that's how we put the points on the board."