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Football 2014: Independent Panthers

Published August 14 at 11 a.m. | Last updated August 13 at 1:03 p.m.

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 we’re 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 hasn’t gotten any bigger; in fact they’re slightly lower in numbers this summer, but Williams believe the team will be prepared.

“We’ve spent more time together as a team studying our plays for offense and defense – something we didn’t do much last season,” Williams said. “We don’t have a big team, but we’re trying to get more freshmen to come out. We can’t 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 don’t have. We know we have to hydrate ourselves constantly in this heat, but it’s something we love to do. We want to get better.”

Coach Jarrod Hibler said he’s 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

PlayerHt.Wt.Pos.Yr.
Shase Williams5-10140RB-DBJr.
Chad Eikleberry 5-7135WR-DBJr.
Stratton Klenda6-2155WR-DBJr.
Cade Dotson6-0165RB-DBSo.

TOP LINEMEN

PlayerHt.Wt.Pos.Yr.
Bryant Robertson6-0215DL-OLSr.
Justin Newman 6-4225DL-OLJr.
Anthony Little6-2300DL-OLSr.
Walker Chandler6-6215DL-OLJr.

2013 RESULTS

OpponentScore
Medicine LodgeW,61-33
CheneyL,34-7
Conway SpringsL,64-6
DouglassL,34-20
ChaparralL,36-20
Belle PlaineW,55-14
SedgwickL,55-14
RemingtonW,58-23
BluestemW,34-30
Conway SpringsL,54-12

2014 SCHEDULE

DateOpponent
Sept. 5at Chaparral
Sept. 12Trinity Academy
Sept. 19at Cheney
Sept. 26Garden Plain
Oct. 3Conway Springs
Oct. 10at Belle Plaine
Oct. 17Douglass
Oct. 24Collegiate
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.”