Monday, August 20, 2012
Panther QB Bobby Casey runs through drills.
Pinewood coach Jody Kafina believes his team is turning a corner.
Kafina took over a floundering Panther football program last year. The team finished the season with a 2-8 record, but Kafina says that has inspired his players to work harder.
“I’m feeling good,” Kafina said. “Our offseason weight training program is making all the difference in the world. Last year I only had one lineman who could bench press 200 pounds; this year all but one of them can.”
In the spring, Pinewood won the SCISA Speed and Strength competition and the coach is hoping that will lead to other things.
“That gave them some confidence,” Kafina said. “Now they know they just need to take that to the football field. We also had a great preseason camp. Our play is more physical. Our confidence in what we are doing is much more aligned with where I want it to be. Our overall commitment and attitude is where it needs to be.”
The Panthers’ varsity team dresses out 38 athletes.
“We finally have some depth,” Kafina said. “We still have some guys who will play both ways, but a lot of other kids are going to get in the games. This year we have also been able to expand on what we do on both sides of the ball.”
The Panthers will stick to a multiple spread offense and have several players returning on that side of the ball.
Bobby Casey is back for his third year as the Panthers’ starting quarterback. The senior has a strong arm and a full year of experience with Kafina’s offense.
Joining him in the backfield are returners Jarrett Londergan and TJ Wilson. Londergan is a senior with good speed, but he definitely has the mentality of a fullback and that proved to be a great combination for the Panthers last season. Wilson is a sophomore who earned valuable experience last season.
“I don’t think there are two faster running backs in our league,” Kafina said.
The Panther offensive line will be anchored by center Cameron Poaps (5-10, 235), guard Andrew Niemeyer (6-2, 230) and tight end Evan Schwartz (6-3, 220). Poaps is a team captain who Kafina says could play at any school in the Lowcountry. Schwartz is a sound blocker and Pinewood’s leading returning receiver.
Donnell Bryan, Johnny O’Shaugnessy and Joseph Bates return at the wide-out position. However, O’Shaugnessy will miss the first few weeks of the season due to a collarbone injury.
The linebackers will be the heart and soul of the Pinewood’s 3-4 based defense this season. Marcus Clark and Zack Latham return to lead the group.
“We have some smart, tough guys at that position,” Kafina said.
Safety Joseph Bates and tackle Zack Kanlic also return on the defensive side of the ball.
Wilson and Bryan are among the Panthers likely to play both ways this season. Both have experience in the secondary.
Junior Kevin Weber and sophomore Matt Gabel are battling for the kicking position and Londergan will be the Panthers’ punter.
Kafina has added some new coaches this season and says his staff is more prepared than it was entering last season.
“I was surprised at how competitive SCISA 3-A football is,” Kafina said. “I knew the teams like Hammond who have that reputation were going to be tough but overall the league is better than I expected. But I’m fortunate to have some coaches who have been around the game a long time and some young guys who will bring extra intensity to our program. They are all quality people first and foremost and are very dedicated.”
Contact Roger Lee @ 873-9424 ext. 213 or firstname.lastname@example.org