High school football preview: Panther Creek

Panther Creek football preview: turning things around

mblake@newsobserver.comAugust 16, 2013 

Panther Creek's Dorrel McClain was an all-conference performer with 199 yards receiving and 534 yards rushing.

CHRIS ADAMCZYK — newsobserver.com Buy Photo

  • About the team

    Head coach: Sean Crocker (second year)

    Last year’s record: 1-10 (1-7 in Tri-9)

    N&O preseason area ranking: N/A

    Five-year record: 29-32 (.475)

    Six-year record*: 30-42 (.417)

    Best run: 2010 – 13-2 (7-1), East Regional final

    2013 Schedule: Aug. 23 at Wake Forest, Aug. 30 vs. Heritage; Sept. 6 BYE; Sept. 13 vs. Jordan; Sept. 20 at Leesville Road; Sept. 27 vs. Athens Drive; Oct. 4 at Cary; Oct. 11 vs. Middle Creek; Oct. 18 at Fuquay-Varina; Oct. 25 vs. Apex; Nov. 1 at Holly Springs; Nov. 8 vs. Green Hope

    *Panther Creek has played varsity football for just six seasons.

Panther Creek never gave up last year, despite its 1-10 season.

A whopping eight of those 10 losses were by one score or less.

The Catamounts are approaching the second year of head coach Sean Crocker’s tenure with an expectation to turn positive attitudes into positive results.

“Even against Fuquay and Middle Creek, we were right there. We feel like if the ball bounces differently in a few of those games, we could’ve ended up .500 or 6-5,” Crocker said.

Junior quarterback Brenden Magner (1,019 yards in nine games) will return to the lineup.

“He learned a lot on the fly, so it was tough for him. But he came back this winter and approached me and said, ‘I’ve got to get a better grasp of the offense,’ and asked me for help with some things,” Crocker said.

Last year’s all-purpose back Dorrel McClain, a senior, split time last year as a receiver (199 yards) and runner (543 yards), and even some time at quarterback and cornerback. This year, he’s going to be the primary ball-carrier.

Meanwhile, fellow all-purpose back Javontay Rhoades (232 yards rushing, 152 receiving) will start as a slot receiver. Crocker said Andre Payne (222 yards), Tre Sullivan, newcomer Elijah Fairfax and converted safety Alec Slusser will give the receiving corps a balanced attack that harkens to his teams at Middle Creek.

Having a large offensive line has been a PC staple, but that’s not the case this year. Guard Greg Storey is 300-plus pounds, but Crocker said linemen Sean Kerr, Parker Logsdon, Nick Palazzo, Donovan Hunt and converted-linebacker-turned-starting-center Trevor Howard are all around 180-205 pounds.

“We’re not nearly as big as we have been the last three or four years,” Crocker said. “But we’ve got some really good athletes, they just don’t have size and will have to fight like crazy.”

Panther Creek’s defense allowed just 22.1 points per game throughout the year and returns 10 starters to its 4-3 look.

J.T. Wise, Leonard Mann, Rony Nasrallah and Anthony Crespi make up the defensive line.

The linebackers are going to be Terrance Lasater, Justin Byers and all-conference selection Matt Powell.

In the secondary, junior cornerbacks Juwan Byrd and Qarun Moon are returning starters, and Isaiah Lasater, Dallas Hancock and Apex transfer Jordan Betts are battling for the safety spots.

“It’s an energetic bunch. They get after you,” Crocker said.

Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps

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