Sterlington Summer Football Report
Sterlington Coach Lee Doty likes the results he is seeing in the weight room this summer.
Stepping outside the weight room during Tuesday morning's session, strength coach Tim Cainexcitedly informed Doty that all nine players in the skill group had benched 275 pounds or better, with three pressing 300.
"We are definitely getting stronger," Doty said. "We have put a lot of emphasis on the bench, squats and hand cleans, and worked a lot on auxiliaries. We have done a lot of dumbbell work and a lot of banded exercises this summer. We have also done a bunch of hip work and foot work. We are doing things we feel like we need to do to get us back to the top of the mountain."
Coming off of the 2016 Class 2A state championship — the first state title in program history— Sterlington went 12-1 while advancing to the quarterfinals in its inaugural 3A campaign.
Following the loss of 15 starters, the Panthers have focused on the weight room while keeping 7-on-7 play to a minimum.
"I felt like it was better for us to work on us," said Doty, the Panthers' second-year head coach. "We have a lot of new guys playing, and we wanted to take the time to work on fundamentals."
Sterlington hasn't placed a heavy emphasis on 7-on-7 work in the past as its quarterbacks usually play baseball during the summer. Besides, the Panthers' option-based scheme isn't geared toward the passing game.
"All of our quarterbacks play baseball," Doty said. "Any 7-on-7s would have had to be done in the morning. It's worked for us, so I don't see any reason to change it."
Speaking of quarterback play, Doty doesn't expect to name a starter until the regular season. Sophomore Brody Green and junior Prairie View transfer Hayes Crockett are the frontrunners to replace two-year starter Carson Clowers.
"It's wide open," Doty replied to a question he has heard frequently for the past several months. "That decision won't be made until after the jamboree. A lot of people want to know, and so do we."
Doty is gaining confidence in an offensive line which was a major area of concern going into the summer. Trey Rugg and Brock Risinger return along with Jack Anderson, who split time last season.
"They have really seemed to jell and come together real quick," Doty said. "Potentially, I think we have a chance to be real good up front on offense. We lost some good ones last year, but we seem to have replaced them with guys that can be just as good. That was a question mark we faced going in, now it's a potential strength."
As a bonus, the O-line is shaping up as one of the Panthers' deepest areas.
"We are looking at maybe seven or eight kids to play five positions where we have been having six," Doty said. "We still have some guys who haven't quite figured it out yet, but once they do, I look for them to give us some quality depth. I'm anxious to see what they are going to do when we get the pads on."
Numbers, attendance and work ethic have become a constant for the Panthers.
"They are going to show up and do what they need to do," Doty said. "I don't think work is ever going to be an issue here. Right now, numbers aren't an issue, but we have to fill voids at fullback and defensively."
Nose guard Colby Rivera and tackle/end Justin Fulmer head up an otherwise inexperienced front four.
"A couple of defensive linemen need to step up. We have been fortunate not to have to play people both ways," Doty said. "This year is going to be a little different. We are going to have to have some two-way players, at least until some of the younger guys get ready to roll."
Sterlington must replace all three starting linebackers.
"We have a handful of linebackers to play three spots," Doty said. "We are in a situation where all five of them are going to play. I feel good about out depth there. Those guys are not young. They are juniors and seniors who haven't been on the field a whole lot."
Trey and Dorian Eddins return at the corners along with late-season starter Reece Brooks.
"The secondary, I feel good about," Doty said. "The Eddins brothers are as good as there is. Reece came on at the end of the year. He gives us some length and speed back there."
Kicker Landon Green is getting a long look in the secondary, as well.
"Landon's a great athlete and a good tackler," Doty said. "We can't use him just to kick anymore. He's going to have to help us in other ways."
PRESEASON: Sterlington will scrimmage Cedar Creek on Thursday, Aug.16, at Panther Stadium before facing Bastrop in the Bayou Jamb on Friday, Aug. 24 at 8 p.m. at ULM.