The Sterlington Panthers take the field for their first spring football practice Monday at 3 p.m.
With numerous positions up for grabs, competition is expected to be fierce as the Sterlington Panthers start spring football practice Monday at 3 p.m.
Prior to breaking camp, the Panthers will scrimmage Caldwell Parish. The game is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, May 15 at 6 p.m. at the Panthers' Den.
Although the Panthers must replace the core of last year's 8-4 outfit, coach Jason Thompson is intrigued by the team's potential.
“We lost 22 seniors, so we have some big shoes to fill,” said Thompson, who enters his second spring as the Panthers' head coach. “At the same time, we have a lot of young kids who have worked hard all spring. I'm looking forward to watching them go out and compete. We lost a good senior class, but I think we have some young kids that are hungry.”
With tight end Ross Lambert moving to defensive end, quarterback Devon Murphy and offensive lineman Logan Jinks are the only holdover starters on offense.
“If anybody wants to step in and take a position, it's there for them,” Thompson said.
Offensively, the first order of business is to replace two 1,000-yard rushers in tailback Jaylon Wade and fullback Austin Haman.
Devante Douglas and Auston Smith have the inside track at tailback and fullback, respectively.
Another urgent priority is rebuilding the offensive line. Converted defensive linemen Trey McDougle and Cole Forbes will audition on the offensive front this spring.
“We have to find a couple of offensive linemen and a couple of receivers,” Thompson said. “We had some injuries on the offensive line last year, which forced us to play some younger guys. That will benefit us this year.”
There is no lack of experience at quarterback where Murphy enters his junior season as a three-year starter.
“Obviously, having your trigger man back with two years of experience is a plus,” Thompson said. “I think we have a shot to be pretty good offensively; it's just a matter of filling those spots.”
Murphy and backup Dalton Dopson, both of whom start for the baseball team, are among several players who could report late, if at all, from baseball and track.
Until Murphy and Dopson are available, freshman-to-be Carson Clowers will direct the first offense. Clowers is among 34 incoming freshmen reporting from the highly-touted Class of 2018.
Jaylan King, Semaj Colvin and Luke Temple were all mainstays in the secondary last season.
“We were really young in the secondary, so we have most of those guys back,” Thompson said. “We just have to move some pieces and parts around.”
King will remain at corner and continue to return kicks, while Colvin and Temple have switched to inside linebacker.
Cedric Dyer, Lambert and converted offensive lineman Austin Goodson are expected to anchor the defensive front.
For Thompson and his staff, the next 10 practices will serve as an evaluation process.
“We have enough bodies to put a good football team on the field,” Thompson said. “We just have to figure out where they all fit. We'll spend the next two weeks trying to figure it out.”