By Andrew Luberda
Head football coach Ryan Palmer has a roster full of young players on this season’s team. Those younger players are getting all the repetitions they could ask for during training camp. With the graduation of several seniors, including two of the most decorated student-athletes (Louis Fuentes and Mario Padilla) to attend Superior High School, there are plenty of opportunities for the Panthers to gain experience.
“We’re a really young group,” Palmer said. “We lost nine starters from last year that had been starters for at least two years. We have a group that has potential and they show promise. It’s getting them the reps and experience.”
Most of the younger players are freshman who have not played at the varsity level but, according to Coach Palmer, will be counted on to perform against more experienced players on other teams.
“They are going to be asked to compete,” Palmer said of his young roster. “It puts us at a disadvantage in that aspect but there is potential. I see it there.”
The Panthers return only three players with varsity experience including Matthew Zavala, the only returning starter.
Coach Palmer said Fuentes and Padilla were great players and leaders for his program but their departure provides an opportunity for someone else.
“We need some of the younger kids to step up and fill those roles,” Palmer said. “Like I said, we’re learning and getting better every day.”
Palmer said Nicolaus Cruz and Elias Olmos are currently competing for the starting quarterback position. He said the team is scheduled to scrimmage Salt River HS on Aug. 23, 2013 and expects their performances in the scrimmage will help determine the starter.
Coach Palmer is excited to work with his team and see them progress from week to week. The Panthers need to pay to attention to detail according to their coach.
“We need to do the little things right,” Palmer said. “Making sure we play the game the right way, making sure we aren’t turning the ball over – taking care of the ball – and we’re making the most out of our possessions.”
“As long as we can get our basic fundamentals (accomplished) and do the little things right – that is what’s really important.”
The Panthers will open their season on August 30 at Mesa Prep at 7:00 p.m.