Football 2014: Independent Panthers
Pulling sleds, running extra wind sprints, committing more time in the weight room and studying the playbook are all things junior running back Shase Williams and his Independent teammates are doing this summer to ensure they reach the playoffs again.
Williams led Independent in rushing and touchdowns last season, while contributing heavily at cornerback on defense. Despite making it to the playoffs, Williams knows a 4-5 record in the regular season can be improved.
Last season our goal was just to make the playoffs. We did that, but we got off to a rough start, Williams said. We built on our losses and got better later in the season, and were working harder as a team to get off to a faster start and finish games this season.
A majority of the offensive starters, including Williams, were forced to play both sides of the ball due to a lack of depth. The roster hasnt gotten any bigger; in fact theyre slightly lower in numbers this summer, but Williams believe the team will be prepared.
Weve spent more time together as a team studying our plays for offense and defense something we didnt do much last season, Williams said. We dont have a big team, but were trying to get more freshmen to come out. We cant control how many players are on the team, but we can control our work ethic and attitude.
We do a lot more conditioning wind sprints, sleds, jumping and weights to make up for what we dont have. We know we have to hydrate ourselves constantly in this heat, but its something we love to do. We want to get better.
Coach Jarrod Hibler said hes looking for a quarterback to stand out in preseason practices. Our team success will be centered around the maturation of our young players, he said.
Independent is hoping its new turf field will attract more players. Last season the Panthers defeated Remington on their new field.
Beating Remington on our new field was one of the highlights last season, senior lineman Bryant Robertson said.
A LOOK AT INDEPENDENT
Coach: Jarrod Hibler, fourth season, 10-19
League: Central Plains
Last season: 4-6, lost in first round of 4A playoffs
Last five seasons: 15-33
Projected 2014 playoff team? Yes
TOP SKILL PLAYERS
|Sept. 5||at Chaparral|
|Sept. 12||Trinity Academy|
|Sept. 19||at Cheney|
|Sept. 26||Garden Plain|
|Oct. 3||Conway Springs|
|Oct. 10||at Belle Plaine|
|Oct. 30||at Bluestem|
Shase Williams on his team
What Independent does well: We have a lot of young players. We have a good (offensive line) that is experienced.
What has to improve: We are working on our conditioning and learning the playbook better.