ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - First up, we have the Buckeye Panthers. They were 3-7 and 1-3 in district play but this year, their plans are to bounce back.
“We have three guys that have been great leaders, and they've been great all off-season and all summer, said Head Coach Johnathan Landry. “They've been great leaders so far in fall camp. They bring a lot of experience, and they've been really good with setting the example for the rest of the team.”
On offense, they're led by quarterback Robert Fowler who tallied up almost 400 yards on the ground. On the offensive line, tackle Andrew Dauzat is opening running lanes for him. They both plan on taking the offense to new heights
“A lot of these younger guys are buying in, and the work ethic is starting to improve, said Fowler.” “We had some guys quit over the summer, but we're all about putting the best 11 people on the field that want do their best. Whoever those 11 are better get ready to fight every Friday night.”
“As long as we're scoring touchdowns and making plays, I'll do whatever I can,” said Dauzat. “We’ve got to be physical, play fast, and be the best that we can and keep winning these match-ups.”
On defense, the Panthers are led by the senior linebacker Trace Tuma.
This kid can hit.
He was second on the team in tackles in 2018. For his last high school football season, he isn't looking to slow down.
‘We've got a lot of young guys,” said Tuma. “We're working on tackling circuits and doing everything that we're supposed to. I think we'll end up okay.”
Moving into District 3-3A, a crowded one that includes Jena and Marksville, the Panthers are still looking to make noise.
“We look at every game on our schedule with the mindset and expectation that we're going to go win it,” Landry said.
“People don't know what we go through when we're out here in this heat. We just keep grinding and we'll shock the world. Most definitely,” said Dauzat.
“Big things come in small packages sometimes,” said Fowler. “That's kind of how our team is this year. We don't have many people on our roster, but I really think we can surprise some people.”
“Watch out, because we're more than what we look like,” said Tuma.
Over in Lena, the Northwood Gators are also coming off of a 3-7 season. Going into his second season as head coach, Justin Webb is looking for his team to make even bigger strides.
“One of our mottos is fast, fight, finish,” said Webb. “Start the day fast, fight your way through it, and finish strong. That’s what I tell them every day. As long as we can carry that mentality day in and day out, I think they'll be some good things happening out here.”
After losing players to graduation, the strength of their team resides on big fella Jermiah Price and you can’t forget the quarterback Caiden Stokes. They both say that they want to see the team make the next step.
“We had a bunch of young bucks come over here and work during the summer time,” said Price. “We have a young team, but I think we can get the job done.”
“I say we've gotten a lot better because we've put in a lot more work,” said Stokes. “We see ourselves up there as being something great. Being physical it what it's all about. If we can come in and give 110% every time, I don't see us losing a game.”
“The Gators were solid at home in 2018, going 2-2. This year they're looking to protect ‘The Swamp’ once again.
“Protecting ‘The Swamp’ is definitely something that we're going to do again. It doesn't really matter who we play against. We're protecting the home,” said Stokes.
“There's a bit of a buzz around campus,” said Webb. “I think there are still some doubters out there. They say you did it your first year but can you do it again.”
“They better be ready,” said Price. “That's all I have to say.”
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