"Being as successful as we were last year, we have to fight complacency," says running back/cornerback Jace Oleson. "Going through the summer we were working our butts off in the weight room, and we're hungrier than ever."
"We've come back, and we've come back strong," says head coach Ric Arand. "We've come back hungry, but you never know from year to year. I couldn't begin to predict what will happen this year."
There are only 23 kids on the varsity, a surprisingly low number for such a successful program, so staying healthy this year will be a key. What the Panthers do have is a solid group of big linemen.
Alan Myelle is 6-3, 270 pounds. Tristan Miller weighs in a 290. Joe Milliken goes 260.
"That'll definitely be a strong point. Not only big, fast. The way they move off the line is incredible," says tight end, linebacker Luke Schubert.
Junior Joe Robinson takes over at quarterback. Arand believes he can be a difference-maker.
"He stands tall in the pocket, and he throws the ball really well for us. He rolls out and he's extremely fast. I think from a run-passing threat he'll be able to do some things we haven't been able to do for a long time."
Schubert provides a big target at tight end. As usual the Panthers have multiple kids at running back to turn to. Oleson, Ben Schubert, Brendan Eilders, and quick-footed junior Chris Stockton.
"We've got three senior running backs. We've got three junior running backs. I wouldn't be afraid to put any of the combination on the six on the field at any time," says Arand.
6'6 Michael Packard will also be a factor on both sides of the ball.
"We've got to work for it We proved it last year, and I think we'll do the same thing this year," says Schubert.