“That’s the motivation,” said senior linebacker Daymion Sanford. “It hypes me up when I hear people say that we can’t play in 6A or that we wouldn’t have won anything if we were in 6A last year. It gets me fired up and it gets the team fired up."
Paetow knows how difficult the jump is from Class 5A to 6A.
They’ve heard all about how much more difficult it will be this year, how they haven’t faced this level of competition before, how their accomplishments were somehow lessened by not being in Class 6A last year.
The Panthers are ready to quiet those critics.
“That’s the motivation,” said senior linebacker Daymion Sanford. “It hypes me up when I hear people say that we can’t play in 6A or that we wouldn’t have won anything if we were in 6A last year. It gets me fired up and it gets the team fired up. We all want to come out and prove ourselves again this year.”
The Panthers have been excited to get back to football for months now. Waiting for the moment they could step back on the field and kickstart their year towards the end of August and football season.
That moment finally came for them on Monday, as the Panthers took the field for their first official practice under new head coach Lonnie Teagle, as they prepare for the start of the season.
“It was just super exciting to get out here,” Teagle said. “I’ve just been waiting for this for a long time. It was just great to see all our guys out here, see them in helmets running around. Getting out and actually practicing feels really good.”
The energy was evident all through practice, as Paetow sprinted through drills and competed despite the early morning practice time.
From lineman, to skill positions to everywhere else on the field, the entire squad wanted to prove themselves as they continue to adjust to a new offense and defense being installed.
“Everything’s been changing, from coaches to scheme and other things,” Sanford said. “We just have to keep building that chemistry. We have to build it with the players that were already here and with the new players and coaches. As long as we do that we’re headed in the right direction.”
That has been a prevailing topic amongst everyone at Paetow. Teagle thinks the players have done a fantastic job adjusting to the different things asked of them and buying into what the coaching staff wants them to do. And he knows it will be important for that to continue and for the team to keep building momentum towards the season.
“These guys just love football and they prove that to us every minute they’re out here,” Teagle said. “They’re just ready to go, the entire group is bought in and they want to win. They’re doing whatever we ask them to do and that’s the only thing you can ask for as a coach.”
The Panthers continue to push to reach new heights and not lose their edge. That’s what has been preached to the program and what their focus is on as they head towards the season.
“When a team comes off a state championship, it can be human nature to just feel content with what you’ve accomplished,” Teagle said. “But these guys understand, this is a new year, with new players and a whole new team. They have that same hunger and maybe even more now that what drove them to last years success.”
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