August 27, 2009
BY BRIAN GADD
NEWTON TOWNSHIP -- A new football stadium signals a new era for the Maysville Panthers.
But will all the fanfare surrounding the fieldhouse, artificial grass surface and video scoreboard translate to on-field success?
"I think it's helped getting more kids out for football this year, but facilities don't win you games," said coach Whit Parks, getting ready for his second season roaming the sidelines.
He said he feels really good about having 71 players out this year, and the amount of offseason work the team has put in.
"I'm pleased with how hard they are working, and their dedication to the program," he said. "We're just taking things day by day, and week by week."
But Park admits his team needs to get out of the gate quickly this season to shrug off the past, coming off an 0-10 campaign in his return to the area last year.
Having three straight home games to open the season could help, though Tri-Valley looms large in the Week 2 Muskingum Valley League opener, sandwiched by Linsly, W. Va. and Morgan.
"Coming off the kind of season we had, our confidence level needs a boost," he said. "They need to feel that success of winning, and the confidence it brings. Our players are coming in here very aware they need to work hard, improve and get better."
The Panthers also will have to shake off a key offseason loss in senior Bryan Havens, who was paralyzed in an all-terrain vehicle accident last month.
"He's a senior, and it's a big loss for us," Parks said, after teammates held up Havens' No. 6 jersey during the team's picture day. Havens was expected to see plenty of time on both sides of the ball, as a wideout as well as at linebacker. "He was probably our best defensive player last year."
Three-year letterwinner Cory Wilson, two-year lettermen Dustin Calihan and Dakota Pettet and junior Josh Bender are expected to be keys for the Panthers this year.
Another weapon to be employed is the dangerous leg of senior Kody Fulkerson, who averaged nearly 40 yards per punt and was MVL Punter of the Year. He also booted a school-record 48-yard field goal and is being recruited by several big schools.
The Panthers will once again line up in the single-wing offense and play a 3-4 defense.
"We think it fits what we want to do," Parks said. "We've got a pretty young line, but they have decent size and are growing day by day on the field. We hope we can mesh together, run the ball better and establish our physicality on the lines."
Sticking together as a team also will be key in the always tough MVL, which was none too kind to the Panthers last fall.
"Our whole football program is built around the team concept. We pound that into them, and we're seeing the chemistry develop," Parks added. "You can't look at any of the games as easy. We have great respect for the great coaches in our extremely competitive league.
"But our expectation is, if we play hard, then wins and success, those things will happen."
Parks will be assisted by Bryan Kanavel, Mike Casapini, Erik Winland, Don Hilty, Matt M
cIntyre, Steve Lawler and Josh Willison. Junior high coaches are Dustin Young, Dan Starrett and Nate Prati.
Zanesville Times Recorder
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