Posted: Jul 16, 2014 9:58 AM
Updated: Sep 19, 2014 11:17 PM
|8 / 22||Scotland County||Home||Win||47 - 0|
|8 / 29||Hallsville||Away||Loss||34 - 37|
|9 / 5||Schuyler County||Away||Win||42 - 7|
|9 / 12||Carrollton||Home||Win||57 - 52|
|9 / 19||Marceline||Home||Loss||7 - 33|
|9 / 26||Slater||Away|
|10 / 3||Westran||Home|
|10 / 10||Fayette||Home|
|10 / 17||Paris||Away|
|10 / 24||Districts|
The Salisbury Panthers are coming off an outstanding season that concluded with an 8-2 record, and with 17 starters returning, there's no reason this season shouldn't be another dandy one. Even though last season ended too abruptly, with a loss to rival Marceline, the experience that many of the returning players received will prove invaluable. Head Coach Mitchell Green will guide the Panthers in his first season at the helm, though he has been an assistant at the school for the past six seasons.
"We had young players step up and show they are ready to play," Coach Green said. "They played hard every game and made it exciting to coach and watch. We came up a little short at the end of the season."
On the offensive side of the ball, the Panthers return All-District quarterback Brady Francis (6-3, 170), who is coming off an outstanding season in which he passed for 1,116 yards and ran for another 640. He's worked hard this offseason and Coach Green knows he can count on Brady Francis to be a leader on and off the field. His favorite target figures to be senior tight end Keegan Wyatt (6-5, 240), who was named to the All-Conference, All-District and All-State teams last season after recording 315 receiving yards. At wide receiver, senior Kyle Hinkle (6-2, 170) is back and wants to have an impact on the offense in his final season of high school ball. Sophomore Garrett Francis (6-1, 150) will also play wide receiver, along with fellow sophomore Spencer Bloss (5-9, 145).
The Panthers have an impressive rushing attack led by senior Daniel Linneman (5-9, 165), who rushed for 961 yards on his way to being named to the All-Conference and All-District teams. He also had 135 receiving yards out of the backfield. He's the type of speedy, shifty player who keeps defensive coordinators awake at night -- as is his partner in crime Jordan Clark (5-10, 150), who was named to the All-Conference team as a utility player last season. He had 387 rushing yards and 267 receiving yards.
Up front, the Panthers are fortunate to have an experienced offensive line, anchored by All-Conference performer Luke Armentrout (6-3, 195), a senior. He played well last season and has been hitting the weights this off-season. Luke Armentrout will start at tackle, as well newcomer Devon Bennett (6-1, 230), a junior. Senior Tristan Farnen (6-1, 180) and junior Cole Fuemmeler (5-10, 195) will both start at guard, while senior Brendan Vasser (5-7, 215) will play center. "We have a lot of team speed which will help spread our offense out," Coach Green said. "We can give the ball to multiple people who can make plays. I think we should have success out of the backfield and through the air."
The Panthers will run multiple formations for a balanced attack. It will be impressive if the offense can match the 38 points per game it averaged last season.
Like a lot of high school teams, the Panthers have quite a few two-way players. Defensive back Brady Francis was named to the All-Conference, All-District and All-State teams last season after recording an impressive 42 tackles and eight interceptions. After observing what he does on both sides of the ball, it's not ridiculous to say he is one of the best players in the conference. He'll be joined at defensive back by Jordan Clark, who had 17 tackles last season, Kyle Hinkle, who had 25 of his own. Garrett Francis is also expected to start at defensive back.
The linebacking corps will be led by Like Armentrout, who had 51 tackles and four interceptions last season, on his way to being named to the All-Conference and All-District teams. Tristan Farnen was also named to the All-Conference team as a linebacker after recording 42 tackles of his own. Daniel Linneman will start after adding 27 tackles of his own and Cory Hinkle and senior Josh Cole will also see some time at linebacker.
Up front, the defensive line is led by All-Conference performer Cole Fuemmeler, a defensive end who had 43 tackles and six sacks in 2013. Not to be outdone, senior Keegan Wyatt had 38 tackles and five sacks of his own at defensive end. He, too, was named to the All-Conference team.
"We do not have the size we are used to having so our speed is going to be big on defense," Coach Green said. "We will have to fly around and tackle well as a team."
Coach Green is excited for his shot to be a head coach of a successful program. "I want to be the best conditioned and most physical team every week," he said "I want my players to play with a purpose and play smart.
"It should be an exciting season, we have a bunch of returning players who are good players and have experience on Friday nights," he continued. "We also have a lot of young talent who can step in and make plays."
Pigskin's Pick: 7-2