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      2013 KHQA Barnstorm Tour: PALMYRA PANTHERS


      A third-year quarterback, an O-line composed of all seniors, one of the area's premier linebackers, and plenty of big game experience from 2012. When it comes to the Palmyra Panthers, what's not to like? Our 2013 Barnstorm tour begins with one of the most experienced and hungry teams in the Clarence Cannon Conference.

      "This is one of the hardest-working groups of kids I've had in all of my coaching years. They've put the time in with 7-on-7 and camps, and they know we have high hopes for them and we hope we can do what they want to do,"

      This coming fall will be a payoff, of sorts, for Palmyra football. It wasn't long ago that the Panthers knew all too well what a 2-win season felt like, but now? Kevin Miles and his kids have worked for the opportunity to dream just a little bigger.

      "When I came here as a freshman, we were at the bottom, but now to see how far we've come, we're going to try to go over the top, keep working hard and run the table,"

      "We know we can set our goals high this year because we'll compete with the best of them from last year even though we lost a lot of players. We know we have the talent to be successful this year,"

      Coming into the CCC as one of the most experienced teams, you might hear the word 'explosive' used to describe this offense. That's what happens when you throw one of the area's top offensive lines into the mix.

      "We explode sometimes, but as long as our defense is solid our offense will take care of itself. I think we're pretty good because all of us are seniors with some good subs as well,"

      "I think we can be real explosive - we've got a lot of playmakers and skill position guys. We also have an offensive line with all seniors, I don't remember the last time we had that,"

      "Our offensive line is one of the best groups I've coached in a while - they're strong, they're big and physical. They understand what we want up front so that's huge, and I think this year they're getting that mentality of what to do at the end of the game,"

      And despite the inevitable graduation losses, this defense has a fantastic centerpiece in linebacker Ben Althoff. Not to mention a kind of roster depth that you don't often see.

      "If Ben can stay healthy, we'll be pretty solid. He makes every tackle and is everywhere - playing scout team against him is not fun,"

      "As a group, we've improved up front. We're at least 6 players deep and have 6 kids with which we're really comfortable putting on the front 3,"

      Keep an eye on Week 2, when the Panthers host Centralia. It will offer our best glimpse at just how far this team has progressed. Palmyra is a clear threat to ascend to the very top of the conference by year's end, and that's a distinction this team has more than earned.

      "Of course you can't look past anybody in the conference, but to finally be considered a part of the top half of that group is a testament to the kids and the work they've put in over the last 3 years,"