After two weeks of conditioning, learning a new offensive system and solidifying a defense that’s loaded with depth, the Great Bend Panthers will shift gears as they look forward to some home cookin’ at next week’s season opener against the Leavenworth Pioneers.
The Panther’s finished up their final preseason scrimmage Friday night at Memorial Stadium. The event focused on limited action for most of the varsity players and offered an opportunity for some of the younger Panthers to showcase their talent after two weeks of practice.
“We got a couple of good series out of our varsity offense and defense,” said coach Tony Crough. “That’s what we really wanted to do for those guys this evening. Make sure they’re fine tuned and ready for the real thing next week.”
Crough said the scout offense remained in a stable position on the field for most of the scrimmage.
“We intentionally put our defense in some positions where the offense wasn’t moving the ball on them,” said Crough. “So they were able to stay on the field for three or four, nine to ten play series which is another way to build some conditioning. It’s good for them.”
“Offensively, we were moving the ball up and down and firing on all cylinders,” he said. “Tonight was the best our offense has looked so far in camp so we’re pleased with the performance we saw tonight.”
Crough added that his focus Friday was getting his younger players a chance to take multiple snaps.
“We gave them a lot of reps today,” said Crough. “They looked aggresive and were quick coming off the ball and that’s what we want from those younger guys.”
“There’s two things we want to key in on over the next week,” he continued. “Stay healthy and stay hungry. Health wise we’re doing great right now but we want them to continue to chomp at the bit instead of overdoing it on reps and risking fatigue setting in.”
“The scrimmage went really well tonight,” said senior defensive back Quinton Elliott. “As coach said, it’s a last chance to polish up some things before we take on Leavenworth next week.”
Elliott had praise for his younger teammates. “Those underclassmen just come out here all the time and get after it. They make us better because of their focus and intensity. All of us are just hungry to get this season started. The enthusiasm and desire is there. It’s just been a long wait.”
“One thing I noticed with this scrimmage is that I have a huge line that will break open some holes for me this year,” said junior running back Cal Marshall. “They create some big open field situations which I thrive in so I owe a lot to those guys and our line coaches.”
Marshall said the Pioneer defense will create multiple opportunities for the Panthers to exhibit their rush attack.
“Leavenworth typically runs a 4-2 defense so Jacob (Murray) and I should be running the ball a lot. His quickness and our line’s ability to blow open some big holes will give us a lot of chances to make some big plays.”