MAGNET COVE: Panthers bent on recapturing 5-2A crown

Conference: 5-2A
Coach: Ronnie Efird
’14 Record: 8-2 (5-2)

Magnet Cove was in unfamiliar territory last season — second place in the 5-2A. After winning the conference three years in a row, the Panthers were knocked off the top perch.

“We had a successful season,” said Coach Ronnie Efird. “We were disappointed because our goal was to win our fourth conference championship in a row. Instead, we tied with Poyen for second place.”

The Panthers are coming back for that No. 1 spot this fall with 10 players with game experience on each side of the ball.

Senior Harrison Wade returns at quarterback. The 501 Football Team honoree threw for 1,733 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2014.

Senior quarterback Harrison Wade and junior running back Zach Dunlap.

The Panthers return three running backs that combined for more than 300 carries last fall — junior Zach Dunlap (131 carries, 539 yards and three touchdowns), junior Jamil Tyner (101 carries, 463 yards and five touchdowns) and senior Josh Smeltzer (71 carries, 317 yards and five touchdowns). Senior Jay Kelley returns as Magnet Cove’s leading receiver (37 receptions, 551 yards and six touchdowns in 2014). Junior Zach Rednour also contributes at receiver. Seniors Nathan Reynolds and Isaac Whitley and junior Nic Lee return to lead the offensive line.

“If our young offensive line comes around, we should be an explosive offense,” Efird said. “We could score a lot of points. We have very experienced skilled people.”

Junior running back Zach Dunlap.

Juniors Shaun Holland and Gavin Porter and senior Josh Wunderlich return on the defensive line. Sophomore Carson Kennerly also contributes on the defensive line. Reynolds, Smeltzer and Whitley also start as linebackers. Kelley, Rednour and Tyner fill out the secondary along with junior Brandon Stovall.

“We should be strong and quick on defense with eight starters coming back,” Efird said. “Secondary and linebackers will be our strength, and our weakness will be at the defensive tackles. England and Conway Christian will be the favorites in the 5-2A; however, we will have a team to compete for the conference championship.”