Though they’ve got veteran lineman to lean on, the Daviess County High School football team is all but starting from scratch everywhere else in 2019.
Head coach Matt Brannon is overall pleased with the progress so far, but losing virtually every member of the high-powered offense from a season ago has left a big void.
“It’s been a pretty productive preseason, but we definitely have a long way to go,” he said. “With the inexperience, we’ve had to take a little extra time in terms of installing and slowing practice down when we need to.”
Add to that a handful of minor injuries, and the Panthers have already been reaching deeper into their roster. Brannon is looking forward to getting healthy and seeing exactly where DC stands against the competition.
“We’re at the point we’re ready to hit somebody else and test out what we’ve got,” he said. “We’re ready to just be healthy and field what we feel like is going to be our starting 11.”
This year’s quarterback will be sophomore Joe Humphreys, who played in only one game last season and went 2-for-3 for 28 yards. Brannon said Humphreys has looked good in the offseason but is ready to see how he handles real-time situations.
With a young signal caller, the offense will be dialed back a bit, but Brannon said the Panthers will still line up in shotgun for most of the snaps.
“We haven’t completely scrapped what we do,” he said. “We want to protect our young quarterback and not put him in positions where he’s having to make down-the-field throws. Our motto for this year is to just stay ahead of the chains, work for every yard, keep yourself in good position.”
Sharing duty in the backfield will be senior running backs Shane Riley and Lance Newman. Another emerging leader for the Panthers is sophomore Isaiah Tomes.
“Isaiah has had a fantastic preseason both sides of the ball,” Brannon said. “He’s been a pleasant surprise playing slot receiver and safety.”
Defensively, DC will look to Weston Lane, who finished last season with 40 tackles, a sack, two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
“He probably has the most experience coming back,” Brannon said. “He leads with the way he works. He’s not a real big vocal guy, but he’s not afraid to let people know he’s there. I’m really excited to see what he’s going to do.”
On special teams, the Panthers return kicker Carter Hoagland, who has started for the past two seasons. Return specialists will be Carter Hamilton and Seth Foster.
Daviess County’s season begins Aug. 23 at Central Hardin followed by a home matchup with Owensboro Catholic on Aug. 30. After two away games, the Panthers return home to face Owensboro on Sept. 20. DC will travel to Apollo on Oct. 25 in the final district game before closing the year at home Nov. 1 against Warren East.
Brannon said while it takes extra work to prepare an inexperienced team, there are also opportunities.
“We take for granted the things a seasoned veteran can do in terms of the little details,” he said. “But, it’s good for us as coaches to re-evaluate how we install things, and it’s a fresh start. We have the ability to teach good habits, and that’s what we’ve been able to do.”
Though he knows they’ll have to weather the storm early, Brannon said it’s all about how they perform in the second half of the season.
“Essentially, the first five games don’t count in your postseason,” he said. “You have to keep that in perspective. One game is not a make-or-break for a season.”