Sterlington Football Notes

Second-year Sterlington head coach Jason Thompson has noticed a vast difference in this year's preseason camp.

A year ago, the Panthers were a team in transition with a first-time head coach and new coordinators on both sides of the ball.

With the adjustment period behind them, Thompson says camp has been much smoother which has led to more productive practices.

“The biggest thing I've noticed is the learning curve from this year to last year is a lot smaller and because of that the tempo is a lot faster,” Thompson said. “We're able to get more reps in on the field because we're not having to coach a lot. We can do more of our coaching on film instead of on the field.”

Last year was a learning process for the coaching staff as well as the players.

“As coaches, we know what to expect from the kids and they know what to expect from us,” Thompson said. “Everybody's had a year in the system which has made it more comfortable for everybody involved in the program.”

Thompson was pleased with the Panthers' work over the summer.

“Coach (Jeremy) Many and the summer staff have done a great job from a strength and conditioning point of view,” Thompson said. “We don't have to spend time on the field conditioning because the kids are in great shape.”

Following the graduation of a large senior class, several members of a highly-regarded freshmen class may have the opportunity to play right away.

“In a perfect world, you don't want to have to count on freshmen, but we have an exceptional group of freshmen,” Thompson said. “We have quite a few underclassmen that I think will see the field this year.”

Another noticeable difference from last year's camp is the competition for starting positions.

“As far as they know, every position is up for grabs,” Thompson said. “We won't establish a depth chart until a week or so from now. We didn't have a lot of depth and competition last year, so it's been good for us.”

Several seniors have caught Thompson's eye during camp.

“(Defensive tackle) Sam Lowery had a great summer and spring and he's having a great fall, too,” Thompson said. “The hard work he put in during the offseason is showing up on the field.

“Logan Jinks, on the offensive line, has accepted a leadership role for us. He's another senior we're counting on to anchor our offensive line.

“Ross Lambert, who started for us at tight end last year, has put on some good weight in the offseason.

“I've been glad to see the leadership from those guys because it's such a small senior class.”

Wide receiver Antonio Gray has been among the most pleasant preseason surprises.

“We got Antonio Gray off the basketball court,” Thompson said. “I've been real pleased with his progress at the wide receiver position.”

SCRIMMAGE: Sterlington will host the Fightin' Tannehills of St. Frederick and Cedar Creek in a three-way preseason scrimmage on Friday, Aug. 22.

MEET THE PANTHERS night is Thursday, Aug. 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the main gym.