HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The Huntsville Panthers knew that they needed to play their best on Friday night to continue their season, but it still wouldn’t be easy. Austin was ranked 7th in class 7A and undefeated in the region. But the Panthers took on the underdog role, went on the road and upset the Black Bears to clinch their first playoff berth since 2017. For that, Huntsville is the Week 9 Tyler Mann Team of the Week! 

“It was very obvious that it was on their minds so I felt good. There was a good vibe and I felt like something good could happen,” Huntsville head coach Mark Fleetwood said.

“We were a big underdog that game and we just came out and all played together and got the big win. I think that was our best game that we played and I think just off that game, it will be big for the next game,” Huntsville senior wide receiver Kameron White added.

“We knew it was kind of our last chance to get in. We’ve all been in the situation where it’s oh here goes another one that we’re going to lose to and in that game we just didn’t, we knew we wanted to win so we just put everything else behind us, put all of the losses behind us and we just went out there and got the win. It’s just fun, there’s no stress, you’re supposed to lose, you’re told you’re going to lose so you go out there and just do what you do. It’s just a great group of guys, we’ve all come together. My freshman year we were 0-0 and then we were 1-9 and now we’re 3-7 and we’re 5-4 now hoping to get to 6-4 and hopefully from there go on to the next level,” Huntsville senior defensive end Todd Whitmire said.

“They won zero games their 9th grade year on their 9th grade team. To see their development over these last four years and believing and staying with it and looking at where you wanted to be, the ultimate goal and I’m just so proud of them for following through with it. No doubt about it and the players have believed it the whole time and I think belief is a big reason that it happened last Friday night is that they believed they could get to the playoffs. Looking back, you always look back and say golly if we had just won that game and look how close we were but I think just believing, the overall belief that we could do this and that we’re capable,” Fleetwood added.

Huntsville will play at Hazel Green on Friday night to wrap up the regular season.