Wednesday night, our high school Training Camp Road Trip began District 5-2A Div. I, with a look at the Seymour Panthers.
They're looking to keep the momentum going from a deep playoff run a year ago.
"We have a lot more confidence," said senior quarterback Blaine Barton. "But we know not to get big-headed, and just come out here and work hard every day."
The Panthers bounced back from a down year in 2014 to make it back into the playoffs last season. Coming into this year, the coaching staff wants the players to forget last year and focus on 2016.
"The season we had last year really humbled us, and we can't just refer back to that," said senior receiver Kieren Gaines. "We've still got to work hard to get back to where we were last year, but we want to do better than we did."
"We need to forget last year; it's this year," said 3rd-year head coach Hugh Farmer. "These new seniors need to become leaders and they need to lead like last year's guys did. I think they did a great job, so we need to have that leadership, but they need to come out and they need to demand that everybody works hard. Our main goal is to get better every day, and everybody needs to be focused on that."
The Panthers bring back some explosive pieces to an offense that averaged 398 yards per game. Those include junior running back David Watson, as well as their top returning receiver, Gaines, and some younger talent that got a taste of varsity towards the end of last year.
"We've got a explosive running back, and our run game is good" said Gaines, who caught 50 passes for over 800 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2015. "We have a good offensive line, a good quarterback and we've got [junior] Collin Gann, a good receiver coming back, so we ought to be good."
"Everybody is going to be ready for us," said coach Farmer. "And it's good that we got a lot of young guys a lot of playing time last year. You get three of four extra games in the playoffs, so those guys get extra experience. And with the experience, and with success, you should have more confidence. And so hopefully that carries over from last year."
The offense is lead by Barton, who comes from a family of Panther quarterbacks and led the team with 239 passing yards per game in 2015. This season they expect him to be even better in his third year under center.
"He's played a lot of football the past three years," said coach Farmer. "And with him coming into his senior year, you hope he makes better and better decisions. And he's done that every year, every snap, so we're looking forward to see what he could do."
"That bond we had last year is really going to help," said Gaines. "I trust him and know that he can do the right thing. He's smart behind his line and he can do the right things."
On the defensive side of the ball, things are not as defined for the Panthers. They lost some key pieces on that side of the ball and have some younger players fighting for spots to fill those roles.
"I think we are going to play spirited," coach Farmer said. "We are going to run around and we've got a bunch of guys that like to run and hit. You know, that's a good thing for defense. I think we have some key pieces that we're going to have to replace, and especially at the safety position and the linebacker position. So we've got a bunch of guys fighting for spots, and that's fun for them, and it also creates a lot of excitement every day at practice."
Seymour is predicted to win their second-straight district title, and their fourth in five years. But the coaches know it won't be easy, and they will still will have to work for it.
"I want them to understand what success looks like and how you get there," said Farmer. "And I think they know what success looks like from last year, but they also need to understand how that happened. It wasn't by mistake. These guys came out every day, they had great leadership and they worked their tails off. And that's a good recipe for success, and if you deviate from that, anything from that recipe, then it's probably not going to be good for us."
The Panthers will open their season on Friday, August 26 on the road at Electra.
Tomorrow night, we'll continue our look at District 5-2A Div. I with the Olney Cubs!
Seymour Panthers 2016 Schedule
Aug. 26 at Electra, 7:30
Sept. 2 vs Quanah, 7
Sept. 9 at Archer City, 7
Sept. 16 vs Petrolia, 7
Sept. 23 at Munday, 7
Sept. 30 vs Hawley, 7
Oct. 7 vs Chico, 7*
Oct. 14 at Alvord, 7*
Oct. 21 BYE
Oct. 28 vs Olney, 7*
Nov. 4 at Windthorst, 7*
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