Derby football: Panthers keeping expectations to themselves
Just as any other team in any other sport, Derby has set a series of goals. But coach Brandon Clark isnt sharing them. Not even when it was suggested that this team is talented enough to set its sights on winning Class 6A.
Acknowledging that Derby has set its goals internally is all Clark would allow.
But they understand that were not there, he said. Theres more than just the football field. We lost our leadership from last year, some of the best leaders weve had in (Eagle Top 11 selection) Dillon Call and Myles Stroud. Last year no one expected us to do anything, and I attribute (Derbys success) to their leadership style and how they held their team accountable. Now were trying to find that and get (the team) going in one direction instead of two or three off the field. Once we get that leadership and become a tight-knit family, then if it happens, special things can happen.
Class 6A is deep in western districts 5-8 with Hutchinson moving back up from 5A, which it won last season. Heights is down but played in the last three 6A title games, winning in 2010. Theres also Northwest, Junction City and Washburn Rural.
We know that we have potential to be good, senior wide receiver Kellen Sims said. But we have a lot to work on. After we fix a few kinks and play the best we can, we can be somebody to compete with and hopefully somebody people will worry about.
Derby returns experienced players, many of whom were thrust into action because of multiple injuries. In the 6A semifinal, Derby had seven backups starting.
Derbys defense will be solid with safety Travis Young and linebacker Ben Becker, but the Panthers strength is its offense with quarterback Chandler Shantz, who transferred from Buhler, and backup Jeremy Dunham.
Junior running back Tyler West (6-foot-1, 210 pounds), who had more than 1,000 rushing yards, has put on 20 pounds and is an even more physical runner.
Hes been in big games, hes the guy who wants to carry the ball in big situations, Clark said.
Tight end DeAndre Goolsby (6-6, 225) was named to The Eagles All-Metro team and had 157 receiving yards in the 6A semifinal loss to Heights.
Hes pretty special, Clark said. Last year wed bring him down on the offensive line and, at 200 pounds, he was our best player. Hed take any lineman, 260 pounds, 270, and he could get under their pads and gain leverage. He understands and knows how to play and how to play with leverage.
Hes part of an offensive line that includes All-Metro selection Cole Hansen. The line returns after adjusting to a big learning curve as sophomores. Theyre physical and agile, and as a group, they can be dominant.