On a Paschal Panthers team that is struggling, quarterback Chris Hanson is the brightest spot and most dependable player.
Although the 0-2 Panthers are still looking for their first win and a team identity, Hanson has provided senior leadership and play-making ability from the start.
Through two games, he has completed 25 of 51 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown and rushed for an additional 56 yards and a touchdown. While he has thrown five interceptions, Hanson has accounted for 309 of Paschal’s 328 total yards, making him the offense’s most potent and valuable weapon.
“Chris is one of those guys that when the lights come on, he plays his best,” Head Coach Matt Cook said. “He’s a good game-time leader.”
All of the challenges associated with being a high school quarterback can be amplified on a struggling team, but Hanson has never shied away from competition. Growing up one of seven kids, Hanson said that playing sports with his four older brothers developed a competitive mentality and prepared him to lead the Panthers.
Hanson’s favorite player is Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Peyton Manning. Hanson said Manning’s command of the passing game and team leadership inspire him and make him strive to be better. As lifetime Dallas Cowboys and TCU Horned Frogs fan, Hanson said that his favorite teams also encourage him daily.
“I grew up around the TCU area and saw them come from nothing to being ranked nationally and winning the Rose Bowl,” Hanson said. “It motivates me and I know we can win just like TCU did. It inspires me to work harder.”
Hanson has been Paschal’s varsity starter since his junior year — a season in which the Panthers finished 1-9. Last season Paschal was stricken with injuries, losing five different centers and two top receivers. Now a senior, Hanson recalls that the many challenges and trials his team faced last season further prepared him for this year.
“It was frustrating at moments. It was hard taking snaps from different centers, because each one is different,” Hanson said. “It was a tough year, but it was fun overall.”
With last season behind him, Hanson is dedicated to working hard and helping his team improve. Paschal’s team motto this year is “Big Team, Little Me,” which Hanson takes to heart.
“I’ve got to show up to practice everyday, knowing I have to work my hardest and show the team that I’m there for them,” Hanson said.
Hanson’s attitude is infectious and his teammates love to play with him and feed off of his energy. Hanson’s fellow seniors have enjoyed watching him improve throughout his career and trust him both on and off the field.
“He puts the team first,” said wide receiver Brian Munoz, who has three receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown this season. “He doesn’t worry about himself and he’s on top of not just his game, but our game as well. He’s our offensive leader.”
Munoz said that having Hanson on the field gives the rest of the offense confidence. He knows that Hanson will always put the ball in the right spot for him to catch it and score.
Since last season, Hanson and the Panthers have been looking forward to this week’s Azle game more than any other. Hanson said that after his team’s victory last year he is eager to play the Hornets, who will be looking for revenge. Hanson hopes that a victory this Friday could mean continued success for the rest of this year.