Upon being hired as the Sterlington Panthers' head football coach in January, Jason Thompson immediately began stressing the importance of summer workouts. Shortly afterwards, the weight room was renovated, complete with new equipment.
All that was left for the players to do was show up and go to work. Thompson says the players have bought into the summer program.
“We've been averaging about 85 percent attendance,” Thompson said. “The kids have been working hard. They've done everything we've asked them to do.”
“Accountability is a word I've been using a lot since I've been here. The accountability has been good. I couldn't be more pleased with them.”
2013 SCHEDULE: The district will have a new look as Homer and Lakeside have been replaced by Winnfield and Oak Grove.
Homer, the 2013 District 2-2A champion, remains on the pre-conference schedule and will visit the Panthers' Den in Week 4.
Winnfield was the District 3-2A champ last season, while Oak Grove won the District 3-1A title.
“We probably have the toughest 2A district in the state now,” Thompson said. “Our pre-district schedule is really tough. We play two 4A schools, OCS, Mangham and Homer. If we can get through our schedule and be healthy enough at the end of the season, we should be playoff ready.”
With the playoffs split into public and select schools for the first time in LHSAA history, Thompson says it will be interesting to see how the postseason plays out.
“It'll be different for sure,” Thompson said. “Any time you have something new, it's exciting.”
Though new to Class 2A, Thompson backs the split. In a class that has been dominated by John Curtis and Evangel, it would be hard — if not impossible — to find a public school coach in 2A opposed to the new format.
“(The split) puts us on a little more even playing field,” Thompson said. “Besides Curtis and Evangel, University Lab is another team that is supposed to be really good this year in the select group.”
REPORT DATE: Thompson is giving the Panthers next week off. Voluntary workouts will resume on Monday, July 22.
Page 2 of 2 - Monday, Aug. 5 marks the first official day of practice.
“The kids are ready to get the pads on and get going, and I think we are, too, as a staff,” Thompson said. “I'm excited about the season.”
CECP COACH: Veteran coach Willie Ragan has joined the Panthers as a CECP coach.
Ragan was an assistant coach for ULM's 1987 national championship team and has held several head coaching positions in the area.
He spent the past several seasons as an assistant at West Monroe.
“Coach Ragan has a wealth of knowledge to share with us,” Thompson said. “It's good to have him on board. He's a great addition for us.”
Thompson said Ragan has been working with the Panthers throughout the summer.