Working out in pads for the first time Monday, the Sterlington Panthers continued preparations for the upcoming football season.
Understandably, the Panthers are still in transition mode, but first-year head coach Jason Thompson says the team is making progress.
"From an alignment point of view, we're well on our way," Thompson said following Tuesday's practice. "We just need to get more reps to get the assignment part of the game down. The execution's not there yet, but it's coming. I still say the effort is there."
Sterlington will travel to Oak Grove on Friday, Aug. 30 in jamboree action, before opening the season with back-to-back home games vs. Benton and West Ouachita.
SCRIMMAGE: Lining up against an opponent for the first time this season, the Panthers will host the Fighting Tannehills (a.k.a. St. Frederick) and Cedar Creek on Friday, Aug. 23 in a three-way scrimmage. Varsity and junior varsity teams will compete in the exhibition.
"We're going to try to use both ends of the field and get everybody some work," Thompson said. "It will be a great evaluation tool for us to see where we're at. By that time, we should be tired of beating up on each other and ready to hit somebody else."
QUARTERBACKS: Sophomore Devon Murphy, who was 6-2 as a starter last season, is being challenged for the starting quarterback position by senior Blake LaCaze.
LaCaze, who transferred from Sterlington to West Monroe and back to Sterlington, was ineligible for athletics last season under the LHSAA's transfer rule. He joined the Panthers for spring drills and underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage and a torn meniscus. Meanwhile, LaCaze opted to postpone surgery on a torn ACL until after the season.
"Blake decided to tough it out and give it his best shot," Thompson said. "Had he chosen to have ACL surgery, he would have been out for the year."
Murphy and LaCaze have both been taking snaps with the first unit.
"They both bring something to the table," Thompson said. "Blake throws the ball a little better, whereas Devon is more of a true option quarterback."
Freshman Dalton Dopson has also caught Thompson's eye.
"Dalton's not ready for Friday night yet, but he has a bright future," Thompson said.
MEET THE PANTHERS Night will be held Thursday, Aug. 22 at 6 p.m. in the gymnasium.