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Meet the 2021 PHS football Panthers — In front, from left are Ryan Cothern, Drew Hackler, Monte Weddle, Hunter Sarver, Blayne Pope, Logan Pickler, Ryan Kaiswer, Isaac Marty, Jacob Chaurero, Cole File and Madison Eilers. Second row, Ace Armstrong, Austin Henschen, Logan Gorenz, Zaibry Russell, Carter Beyers, Max Lynch, Brenden Schoonover, Ross Glick, Donnie Miller, Bo Christer and Joel Deere. Third row, Colin Schmitz, Carter Hocq, Camren Cook, Brant Bowker, Kyle Kuhn, Brycen Mahnke, Connor McGlauchen, Drew Hackler, Brandon Lehman, Cole Nollman, Evan Swisher. In back, JV Head Coach Jared Wolf, Assistant Coaches Cody McLaughlin, Wes Horton, Garrett Claxon, Defensive Coordinator Ryan Lipe, Head Coach Trevor Higgins, Assistant Coaches Kyle Anderson, Rich Gibson and Denny Pastor.
PANA — After going 5-1 in the spring football season earlier this year, expectations are high in the Pana Panthers football camp. Head Coach Trevor Higgins, now in his sixth football campaign as head coach at Pana, lost just three seniors following the abbreviated season.
“We only lost three seniors from the spring season – Andrew Ambrose, Gunnar Dean, and Blake Stokes,” the coach said. “We have a ton of guys returning from last spring. Our guys this year have an advantage of knowing our system already by playing this last spring and are excited for this upcoming fall.”
There are 15 seniors on this year’s roster, led by Carter Hocq, Kyle Kuhn, Logan Gorenz and Colin Schmitz who are the team captains. The remaining seniors are Jacob Chaurero, Bo Christer, Taylor Clements, Madison Eilers, Austin Henschen, Kyle Kuhn, Isaac Marty, Donny Miller, Zaibry Russell and Hunter Sarver.
And, if that wasn’t enough to be optimistic about the season, right behind them there are 15 juniors on the roster: Ace Armstrong, Carter Beyers, Brant Bowker, Dylan Cole, Camren Cook, Joel Deere, Max Lynch, Brycen Mahnke, Connor McGlauchlen, Cole Nollman, Devon Peebles, Mason Shoraga, Haden Stark, Evan Swisher and Monte Weddle.
In Higgins’ estimation, the club seems to be ahead of the pace set last season.
“We seem to be farther ahead in the game due to our spring season so our guys have done well with understanding our system,” Higgins said. “We are still working on all the little fundamental things but I am proud of how hard they have worked and the effort they have been putting in our practices.”
The coach feels underclassmen Devon Peebles, Carter Beyers, Haden Stark and Monte Weddle can make a valuable contribution to the team this year.
The Panthers finished 5-1 in the spring and key games in the South Central Conference will be against Vandalia (the home opener this Friday), Greenville, Carlinville (final game of sea- son away) and Piasa. An old time rival has been added to the schedule – Nokomis. The game is Friday, Oct. 15, in Nokomis.
For the most part, Higgins is looking forward to getting back to some normalcy and “being out here with the guys.”
This is his 15th season with the Panthers, starting as a coach during his student teaching tenure. The next year, hired as a teacher, he became freshman coach under former coach Al Stupek.
“I love coaching because of the relationships it allows me to have with my players past and present, assistant coaches, school personnel, and this community,” said Higgins. “I also love the game of football so it’s a perfect match for me. Pana has been such a supportive communi- ty for me and my family and the football team is like a second family to me.”