KHQA BARNSTORM TOUR: PALMYRA PANTHERS
Back to the Business of Barnstorming tonight...and determining a preseason favorite in the Conference of Death we all lovingly know as the Clarence Cannon.
Ask around and there's no real consensus. Some people like Macon. Others Centralia. And I am hearing a lot of Brookfield sentiment as well.
But interestingly...the one team not getting much play here is your defending Champion...and a team coming off one of the best seasons in program history.
And that isn't exactly sitting well in Palmyra...
Matt Frankenbach: "A lot of people are doubting us and I just want to prove them wrong because we are a lot better than they say we are."
Kevin Miles: "There's very few schools in this Conference that are at the top every year. The one we always talk about is Centralia. You know they are one of those ones, they've built that tradition where they just reload every year. And the rest of us have to fight for it. So that's not a surprise. And its good for us. We like being the underdog. We've been there the past couple of years, prior to maybe last year. And even last year, I think that people didn't believe we were as good as we were. That's good. It's good motivation for our kids. They know. We speak it. We talk about it all the time to kind of keep the fire going, keep that belly ready to go."
When you graduate 20 full time starters, 15 All Conference honorees, both the Clarence Cannon Conference Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, and an All State Quarterback to boot...well, year, people are going to tend to think your football team is destined to take a step backwards. But let me spare you the guesswork, having seen these guys now in person. Palmyra is fast. Everywhere. Even, no especially, in an Offensive Backfield filled with guys who may quickly make you forget the former household names.
Kevin Miles: "We really do. And that's where we have been blessed. We kind of have got some groups back to back now. It's fun to kind of seem them come together. But we came in Day One and the kids already really had a good handle on the offense and defense and what we want to do. So we were able to hit the ground running, and add some new things, and be a little more creative with them, and take advantage of what we think our strengths will be this year. "
Trevor Wheeler: "I think that a lot of people have a little doubt in us because we lost so many great players last year. But I think a lot of people stepped up this year and really showed who they could be as part of the team and be playmakers still. "
With speed merchants Trevor Wheeler and Mason Franklin slated to accelerate the ground game behind a sturdily rebuilt Offensive Line, much of the Offensive Focus now centers on replacing Brock Butler under center. And that won't be a decision easily made thanks to the contributions made this summer by both Ben Cheffey and Logan Scholl.
Skyler Kline: "I mean both our quarterbacks, they can step up. They can both sling the ball. And they can both run. So it's going to be a toss up."
Kevin Miles: "It really is. And we knew last year we had two good back-up Quarterbacks. To see them grow and progress, the work they put in this summer, watching film, and honestly sometimes I think just studying things, studying how things were done last year to kind of get their footwork right. And just learning from Brock when he was here. And then bringing their own twist to it. They're both great young men. They are so different than Brock that it just makes it exciting and fun having Ben and Logan both back there running our offense."
The fail/safe on the Panther Offense is found on the other side of the ball; a group that features arguably the Cannon's Best DB in Skyler Kline and best D-Lineman in Matt Frankenbach; not to mention a talent group perfectly fit for the scheme.
Trevor Wheeler: "Coach Kliewer really can put a little pep in our step with it. He'll get us back where we want to be. And if not, he'll sure make it happen."
Skyler Kline: "I mean we've got probably the best Defensive Coordinator in the whole conference, the whole area. And I mean we've got guys who are going to step up and fill the holes we need."