Craig Yeast’s coaching debut for the Kentucky Wesleyan football team could prove challenging, as the Panthers open the season today at 1 p.m. by hosting Concordia.
The Cardinals — ranked No. 6 in the NAIA coaches preseason poll — went 10-3 a year ago, while Wesleyan finished the season 3-7.
Yeast said he is ready to get the season going, and the focus this year will be playing sound, fundamental football.
“We want to play with great effort,” he said. “We want to change the perception of how we feel about ourselves. We’re going to play hard and play fast. We’re going to try to run to the ball and make plays on defense. We’re going to try to protect the football and score points on offense.”
Yeast said the offense is somewhat inexperienced but showed growth through training camp.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys on offense, but I’m very pleased with the way that everybody has come along and progressed throughout camp,” he said. “We have some veteran players in that group bringing some of those young guys along, and that’s been a plus for us.”
The defense, on the other hand, should be able to take a big step forward with several returning players.
“I feel really good that on our defensive side of the ball we have a lot of leadership and experience,” Yeast said. “As a result, I feel like we’ll be a very good team defensively.”
Though there are a handful of local players new to the Panthers this year, Yeast said there are two freshmen that made a big impact in the preseason.
Diamond Glover, a graduate of Owensboro High School, is a defensive lineman that Yeast said should see plenty of time on the field.
“We saw a lot of promise out of Diamond Glover on the defensive side of the ball,” he said. “I think Diamond was arguably one of the better players in this area, and we’re happy to have him. He’s going to play a lot, and he’s going to be a big contributor this year.”
On offense, Daviess County High School graduate and running back Landon Newman impressed Yeast in practices.
“He’s done a phenomenal job for us,” he said. “He’s very intelligent and learns well. He’s been making a lot of plays throughout camp.”
Overall, Yeast is happy with his roster after a big recruiting process in the offseason, and he’s ready to see how they stack up.
“I feel really good about the young men that we have in our program,” he said. “I’m looking forward to our first game.”