Magnet Cove: Panthers seek consistency despite youth

Conference: 5-2A
Coach: Ronnie Efird
’13 Record: 8-3-1 (6-1)

Winners of three-straight conference championships, Magnet Cove continues to impress each year. However, with just five seniors, the Panthers may have to work even harder to achieve a fourth championship this fall.

“Bigelow and England will be top contenders,” Coach Ronnie Efird said. “We are very young, but talented. I feel that with experience, we will compete for another championship.”

Junior Harrison Wade takes over at quarterback after backing up graduated Panther Jared Stanley last year. All-league receiver Tanner Clements works well with Wade and caught 32 passes for 525 yards and four touchdowns last year. Senior Cane Edwards and junior Kay Kelley are viable targets for Wade as well.

Magnet Cove appears strong at running back, with returning junior Josh Smeltzer and sophomore Jamil Tyner sharing the workload.

Smeltzer excels in short-yardage situations. Tyner exhibits unrivaled speed and led the junior high Panthers in rushing last year. Junior offensive linemen Isaac Whitley and Taylor Musser are great blockers who create gaps for Wade, Smeltzer and Tyner.

Smeltzer, Tyner, Musser, Whitley, Kelley and Clements will start on defense. Ross Nitch works hard on both sides of the ball and earned All-Conference honors last year. The senior safety led the team in tackles last year and was recently named to this year’s 501 Football Team.

“Ross is a very physical player who gives 100 percent full speed every play,” Efird said. “He’s never in trouble, does not worry about individual stats, is a team player who leads by example and is a winner.”