Panthers looking to take next step

The 2021 Pauls Valley Panthers

With 17 starters returning from last year’s playoff team, the Panthers are looking to improve and take that next step forward in the playoffs.

“We have a big group of returning starters,” head coach Dusty Raper said. “We are still a young team with not many seniors, but the ones we have are all good players.”

The Panthers have nine seniors on the 54-man roster, all of which will provide some much needed leadership for this young squad.

Offensively, the Panthers will be breaking the bone offense that they have ran for the last several years, and look to spread the ball out in a pistol look.

“We will be moving from the wishbone offense to the spread offense,” Raper said.

Leading the way one offense is junior quarterback Justin Humphrey. Humphrey (6-2, 185) had over 2,200 yards last year with 1,500 yards rushing and 700 yards passing. He accounted for 24 touchdowns, including 21 on the ground.

He is joined in the backfield by senior Landin Weilenman. (6-2, 200). Weilenman is the top back returning for the Panthers. He finished with over 700 yards on the ground.

Humphrey will have several targets to chose from when PV goes to the air. Mason Smith (5-10, 150, Jr.) had over 300 yards receiving a year ago. TK Jaggers (5-11, 140, Jr.) and Mason Prince (5-9, 150, Sr.) give Humphrey a couple of viable targets that can go the distance each time they catch the ball. Sure handed Nathan Chronister (6-0, 150, Sr.) will be a player to watch when the Panthers need a first down.

Up front, three-year starter Cole Campbell (6-0, 200) will be the leader in the trenches at center. Sophomore Jase Ford (5-10, 190) and junior Keyondre Dixon (6-0, 225) will man the guard positions. Senior Luke Bratcher (6-1, 200) and Luke Smith (6-2, 225) will man the tackle positions.

This group appears to be solid and should provide Humphrey with some time to throw as well as open holes for Weilenman.

The Panthers will have multiple looks on defense but will base their defense out of the 3-4.

“We are looking to play fast and physical on defense,” Raper said.

Several players will be playing both ways for the Panthers including Luke Bratcher in the trenches. Bratcher will anchor the defensive line. 

Luke Smith and Cole Campbell will both work in an out along the defensive line. Rayne Major (5-10, 150, So) will give the Panthers some speed up front to pressure the quarterback. Erickson Stultz (6-2, 300, Sr) gives some size upfront to help stop opponent’s run game.

Brayden Patchell (6-0, 175, So.) had over 80 tackles a year ago and will be a leader on defense at middle linebacker. Grant Marcum-Jones (5-10, 260, Jr.), Deacon Davidson (6-2,150, Sr.) and L. Weilenman will roatate in and out with Patchell at the other linebacker positions.

Jaggers was one of the mainstays in the secondary for the Panthers a year ago with four interceptions, one for a TD. He will get the nod at one of the safety positions. Dakota Weatherford (6-0, 150) will be at the other safety position. Mason Prince, Jackson Coates 6-0, 150, Jr) and Nathan Chronister will all see time at corner.

The defense played well against Marlow in the Panthers only scrimmage, giving up just one touchdown.

The Panthers will need that defense to shine every Friday night and especially when district games start. District 3A-2 has three teams in the preseason Top 15 including Plainview in the Top 10 and Sulphur and Lone Grove after them.

“We are in the toughest district in the state,” Raper said. “We have to show up every Friday or anyone can beat you.

“If we stay healthy and avoid COVID issues, we feel like we will have a great chance to finish somewhere near the top of our district.”

Pauls Valley opens the season Friday at Lindsay. They will then be at Davis before their home opener September 10 with Tishomingo. They open district play on September 24 at Lone Grove. 

Trending Video

This Week's Circulars

Recommended for you