PANHANDLE, Texas (KFDA) - Panhandle’s high powered offense won’t be the only reason for their success in this upcoming campaign.
“We changed philosophies a little bit on defense, got a new defensive coordinator, Corby Maurer, doing a really, really nice job,” Panhandle Panthers Head Coach Dane Ashley said of his new and improved defense. “We’re gonna be more aggressive, and his big thing, is we want to score on defense and everybody’s bought into it a lot. It’s been a lot of fun.”
For the Panhandle Panthers, scoring is not a problem. On average, the team which went 9-3 over the course of the 2019 season, put up 53 points per game. They also allowed 22 points though per game to opponents while on defense. This year, the Panhandle defense has changed their goal and strategy.
“On defense, we’re trying to score as much as we can,” Panhandle Senior Linebacker Jayse Edwards said. “When [the offense] doesn’t have the ball, that’s the best we can do. If we can score on offense and defense, well then they can’t stop us.”
The way they are planning on doing that comes down to two simple strategies.
“Our secondary, we’re changing up our secondary, so that it’s easier on them, so that we can stop the throw easy. We’re trying to stop the run a lot more on it,” Edwards said.
However, no matter how great the Panhandle defense becomes this season, the true monster opposing teams hate to face off against is that of Ashley’s unstoppable offense.
“Man, we got a lot of guys on offense,” Ashley said. “That’s the problem, trying to make sure everybody gets the ball. You got Zion Mercer outside on the right. He’s an All-State player. You’ve got a newcomer in, Cooper Neal. Guy runs like a 4-6 40 [yard dash] in the slot. You got Landyn Hack who’s an All-State player in the backfield. You got Jayse Edwards who’s an All-State player in the backfield. You got Zach Wood who was First-Team All-State over on the left side, and then you got Wes Jones who’s probably the most underrated quarterback in the Panhandle. There’s just weapons everywhere. It makes it fun. It makes it easy to call plays.”
For Jones, who is definitely one of the best quarterbacks in the Panhandle, and not just in Ashley’s opinion, there’s just one thing on his mind entering 2020.
“Just our bounce-back effort, from last year, you know. We got a chip on our shoulder. We got to get that off,” Panhandle Senior Quarterback Wes Jones said.
The Panthers exited the 2019 playoffs earlier than they would have wanted with a 60-56 loss to Sundown, a team that made it all the way to the Regional Finals of the UIL State Tournament. This year, the team doesn’t plan on settling for anything less than a trip to Dallas.