By ANDY WOLF
Pandora-Gilboa hasn’t had a loss to learn from this season.
The Rockets haven’t needed one.
Their last defeat left a strong enough impression.
Pandora-Gilboa losing 49-7 to Norwalk St. Paul in last year’s Division VII Region 26 final put a tough spin on an otherwise season to be proud of.
“That left a sour tastes in our kids’ mouths all offseason,” Pandora-Gilboa coach Matt Hershey said. “We don’t want that feeling again.”
So far, Pandora-Gilboa has avoided it at 11-0 overall.
The Rockets will be put to the test against another unbeaten in Edgerton (11-0) in the regional semifinals 7 p.m. Saturday at Defiance’s Fred Brown Athletic Complex.
“It’s cool, but we try not to focus on that right now,” P-G senior quarterback Jared Breece said of being unbeaten. “In the playoffs, it’s one week. One loss and you’re out. So your record doesn’t really mean anything here.”
Pandora-Gilboa hasn’t been on the verge of losing many games in 2018.
Its closest regular season game was a 19-14 Week 7 thriller against Blanchard Valley Conference rival McComb, handing the Panthers their only loss this season.
The Rockets could see the Panthers again in the regional final.
But they’ll worry about that if the time comes.
“As far as the undefeated, we’re taking it week by week,” Hershey said. “I know it sounds cliche but it’s what you’ve got to do. We’ll focus on the next opponent and after it’s all said and done, however long we’re fortunate enough to play for, we’ll celebrate after the season.”
Outside of a Week 1 win over eventual Division VI playoff team Columbus Grove (25-13), Pandora-Gilboa breezed through the regular season.
From Weeks 2-6, P-G outscored its opponents 226-6.
After edging out McComb, the Rockets completed a 10-0 regular season by an average score of 52.6-10 over the final three games.
Tiffin Calvert, at 9-1 overall, posed a far tougher challenge on paper when the playoff pairings came out.
But the Rockets never trailed and posted a decisive 33-7 victory.
“We can’t focus on the 11-0 record,” senior lineman Gage Hovest said. “We’ve got to focus one game at a time because it’s one-and-done from here on out.
“As long as we keep our heads on, keep doing our jobs, keep making plays, (we’ll) keep winning games.”
Still, 11-0 is nothing to make light of.
Of the teams still alive in Division VII, only Canal Winchester Harvest Prep (10-0, Region 27) is still unbeaten.
The Warriors had a win over club team Reigning Sports Academy in Week 6 which doesn’t count in the OHSAA standings.
Often a well-timed loss in the regular season puts crucial, fixable weaknesses front and center.
“When we play a weaker team, if we let them get a touchdown, we count that as a loss,” Hovest said. “We just have to focus on perfect games, perfect games. As long as we do that, we’ll be alright.”
“It starts in practice,” Breece said. “We can’t stay too high, especially how well the season has been going.
“Some people have been praising us up a little bit. We’ve just got to stay humble and keep working in practice.”