HEBER SPRINGS PANTHERS:
Panthers to go through ‘learning curve’ this season
BY CODY GRAVES STAFF WRITER
August 28, 2011
LITTLE ROCK The Heber Springs Panthers are coming off a bittersweet 2010 season.
After losing quarterback Michael Ludwig in week 3 with a dislocated kneecap, the team managed to finish the season strong with a 7-4 record.
“[Ludwig] was the heart of our offense,”
ski said. “Thatwas a big blow when we lost him.”
Despite missing three games, the 5-9 senior put up more than 1,500 yards last season and will return to anchor the Panthers offense this season. Janski said he expects the team’s passing game to improve this season.
The team began summer practice Aug.
1, and Janski said that despite the intense heat, the team responded well.
“Overall, we had a real good start to our August camp,” he said.
On offense, the Panthers have four returning starters, including Ludwig.
Markeyvus Mays returns to the tailback position after breaking school rushing records last year. The 5-9 senior ran for more than 1,800 yards and put up more than 2,000 all-purpose yards.
“He can outrun [anybody] in 4A ,” Janski said.
Senior center Austin Childers and junior running back Ethan Bly are also returning starters on offense.
On defense, the team has five returning starters: Jake Blackwood, Nathan Marts, Aaron Palenske, Jeffery Anderson and Clint Ligon.
Janski said last season’s passing game was “fairly decent,” and he expects Ludwig to improve this year.
“There will be a lot of play action,” Janski said. “He’s more of a scramble-type quarterback. We’ll bootleg and waggle him out of the pocket.”
As for the ground attack, Janski said hepredicts another great season for Mays this year.
Janski said size will be an issue this season, as the offensive and defensive lines are not as big as they have been in the past. He said several of the offensive linemen will be younger players, so experience could be an issue.
“They’re going to have to go through that learning curve, take their bumps earlyand get ready for that opener against Shiloh Christian,” he said.
As for the 2-4A Conference, Janski said he expects his team will have to fight for every inch, especially with opponents such as Newport, Stuttgart and Marianna doing well last season.
“I think it’s kind of like a little, mini SEC, just kind of beating up on each other Friday nights,” he said.
Janski hopes for a conference championship, but with the Panthers’ schedule and the caliber of opponents in the conference, he is reluctant to make a firm prediction.
“I want to say [our chances] are good, but you mix in Stuttgart, Lonoke and Newport - those very athletic football teams. They can ruin your chances in one play,” he said. “I feel like we’ll compete for it, and hopefully, we’ll stay healthy.”
River Valley Ozark, Pages 93 on 08/28/2011
River Valley & Ozark 93