It’s no fantasy — college football is back

By LAUREN BOYD

 

The Panther football team is in the midst of preparing for a successful 2019 campaign, looking to improve on last season’s 5–4 record. Last year, the Panthers had an impressive 5–4 run, but the team will look to increase their wins in the next few months by working faster and harder in the off season.

In their first game of the season, the team will face the Williams Ephs — a longtime rival and huge competitor for the Panthers. In 2018, the squad took home the win, with a 21–10 victory on Williams turf. This year, the team will be looking to do the same, but this time on their home field.

Nescac competition will also feature dominant Tufts and Trinity teams. Last year, the Panthers fell to both teams, but will look to prove their off-season hard work in the upcoming weeks.

Starting at quarterback is junior Will Jernigan ’21, who saw some time on the field last year. Skilled in both the run and pass game, Jernigan is working to lead the Panther offense behind a stout offensive line, with senior wide receiver Max Bochman ’20 leading the routes. Captain offensive lineman Kevin Woodring ’19 will head the offensive line for Jernigan as the team takes on Williams this upcoming weekend. With two weeks of preseason under their belts, the players are well-prepared for the season.

“The biggest thing we’ve been focusing on in preseason is doing the little things well. As a team we’re going to make mistakes, but if we can correct the smallest things, we will be a much better football team,” Woodring said, when asked about their preseason preparation. “My offensive line coach consistently says to us, if we, as a unit, get 1% better each day, over time that adds up and sooner or later we’ll be a very good football team.”

“The little things come down to knowing your assignment, being in the right place and executing your assignment with good technique. This is what our head coach, Bob Ritter, preaches to us everyday at practice and is the reason we spend so much time watching film and walking through plays/formations just so we are mentally aware of what’s going on, so that come game time we can play fast and execute efficiently.”

With an average of 137.2 rushing yards and 183.3 passing yards in the 2018 season (combined for a total of 320.6 yards), the 2019 squad will look to increase these numbers behind Jernigan, Bochman, Woodring and the Panther offense.

The defense will also stand strong with seniors Wyllis McKissick ’20 at linebacker and Alex Norton ’19 on the defensive line, with a host of other Panthers filling in the field. In 2018, the Panthers accumulated 652 tackles and 11 sacks in their nine games, numbers these seniors hope to increase in their upcoming campaign.

Max Rye ’21 and Carter Massingill ’20 will handle the bulk of the punting and kick game, respectively.

 With a good amount of senior leadership, as well as strength in the younger grades, this year’s team will look to improve on its solid 2018 season. For team goals this season, the players will be looking to go 1–0 each week, with hopes of attaining the championship.

“The cliche answer to [the question of goals for the season] would be to obviously win a championship and for this team that is certainly attainable,” Woodring said, “The one goal we strive for each week is to go 1–0. If we go can go 1–0 against the team we’re playing that week, well, we will end up as a very good football team. This is achievable through having excellent team chemistry, having diligent film study and flying around and having high energy practices.”

If the season ends up as successful as their preseason, this team will prove strong enough to outplay their Nescac competition.

“So far through preseason, we’ve had excellent practices. Our energy has been great, people have been dedicated to studying film and learning their assignments and most importantly, our team has gelled into a cohesive unit. I look forward to seeing what our team can do this year, we can surprise many people with the talent that we have on this football team,” Woodring added.

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