MAGNET COVE: Panthers fighting in a deep 5-2A

Conference: 5-2A
Coach: Caleb Carmikle
’16 Record: 3-8

The Magnet Cove Panthers faced adversity in 2016.

“It was a frustrating season for all players, coaches and fans in Magnet Cove,” said Coach Caleb Carmikle, who takes over the Panthers after Ronnie Efird resigned after 10 years. “Inexperience at key positions and a difficult first half of the schedule was a recipe for a tough season. The Panthers started off 0-4 and ended the year 3-8.”

Junior Grant Eskola and sophomore Brennen Koller are battling it out for the quarterback position. Junior Trent Robinson opens up holes at fullback. Running backs JD Butler and Eli Dawson fill out the backfield. Sophomore Alex Ordonez and junior Cade Asher serve at receiver. Projected starters on the offensive line are seniors Hudson Wade, Brandon Davidson, Carson Kinnerly and Colton Edwards and junior Josh Spiva.

“Offensively, I expect us to be solid up front and rely on a talented group of running backs to carry us early in the season until one of the quarterbacks sets himself apart from the other,” Carmikle said. “Once a downfield passing threat is developed, that should take us to the next level offensively.”

Seniors Trenton Barber, Austin Gage, Wade and Logan Gilsinger bring strength up front on the defensive line. Spiva and juniors Tyler MdJunkins and Eli Dawson start at linebacker. The Panthers will look get a young secondary up to speed quickly in non-conference. Defensive back starters include sophomore Jaryd McJunkins, Koller, Butler and senior Jayce Nitch.

“Defensively, the front seven will be our strength,” Carmikle said. “We must be able to stop the run and get a solid pass rush to give help to an inexperienced and young secondary.

“The road to a conference championship runs through England. They lost several key players from last year’s group, but until someone beats them, they have to be the favorite. Conway Christian and Hector should both be contenders as well. The entire conference should be very balanced from top to bottom this year, and everyone will be well coached, which will make each Friday night very exciting in the 5-2A.”