By Craig Beilfuss

HESPERIA—The Hesperia Panthers held on for 18-12 win over the St. Louis Sharks on Thursday evening in a non-league battle at Hesperia.

It was the first career win for new Hesperia coach Tyler Fehler and gave the Panthers some momentum heading into next week’s battle with their archrival, White Cloud Indians.

It wasn’t pretty. Really excited. It was a good win. We got the job done and we got the win,” said Fehler. It is back to the drawing board on our punts and special teams. We clearly have to sharpen up our punting game.

The whole second half I thought we underestimated our opponents,” he said. “We had a lot of missed assignments, but we’ll clean that up.

I saw some good improvement from week one to week two,” Fehler said. “I really want to pound the ball more inside. We really need to make some improvements from week two to week three.”

Hesperia relied heavily on the arm and feet of senior quarterback Alex Gleason.

Gleason rushed for a game-high 91 yards on 13 attempts while also scoring a touchdown. He completed 10-of-16 passes for 71 yards.

The Panthers found the endzone quickly and scored on their first offensive possession.

Hesperia went 65 yards on three plays, scoring on a 12-yard run by Maverick McKinnon. Skyler Stalbaum converted the two-point conversion on a running play and the Panthers were up 8-0. They never trailed from that point.

The Sharks scored at the 4:22 mark in the opening quarter on a 1-yard run by junior Joshua Dew. They failed on the 2-point conversion, which left the Panthers with a slight lead of 8-6.

Late in the second quarter, the Panther defense held St. Louis on downs at the Panther goal line and created a safety opportunity on a bad snap on a punt attempt putting. That put Hesperia up 10-6 with 2:20 remaining in the first half.

Following the safety, the Sharks had to kick from the 20-yard line. Hesperia returned the ball 48 yards and were in business at the Sharks 20-yard line.

With 14.3 seconds left in the first half, Gleason scored on 5 -yard run. Gleason then found Ian Fox on a passing play to convert the 2-point conversion. The Panthers took that 18-6 lead into the half.

St. Louis scored the only points of the second half on their opening possession by going 74 yards on five plays. They scored on a 5-yard run by Thomas Zacharko. The 2-point conversion failed and the Panthers led 18-12.

The remainder of the game involved ball-control offense. Yards were hard to come by from that point on. Penalties and blocked punts also stymied the teams.

Defensively, the Panthers were led by McKinnon with a team-high seven tackles.

Gleason, Marcus Hoaglin and Skyler Stalbaum each had six tackles, while Brock Bolles chipped in 4. Stalbaum also had an interception.

Hesperia (1-1) will travel to White Cloud (1-1) to take on the Indians next Friday, Sept. 9.