The 0-3 Paschal Panthers look to continue to improve during their bye week as they prepare for their District opener against Arlington Sam Houston next week. The Texans are also looking for their first victory.
Following a hard-fought 28-6 loss to the Azle Hornets, the Panthers are ready to move forward and focus on the positive.
“We always tell our kids it’s how you finish, not how you start,” head coach Matt Cook said. “Our kids have progressed each week, so we feel like the next progression would be the win column.”
Quarterback Chris Hanson said that the bye week is a great asset to the team’s continued improvement. He said it allows for the team to become more fundamentally sound. Cook said that this week has also been used to fix problems on the offensive and defensive lines.
“We’re definitely going to get rid of all of our errors,” defensive lineman and co-captain Walker Moore said. “It’s time for something to change and we’ve put a lot of change into our new system.”
Although the loss at Azle was disappointing, the diamond in the rough was the discovery of sophomore running back Justin Woodard. In his first varsity game, Woodard rushed for 91 yards and caught two passes for four yards. Paschal fans are hoping he is the answer for a Panther offense that has struggled immensely to move the ball on the ground in the previous two games.
“I was nervous at first, but I guess I just got over it,” Woodard said. “I wish we had a game this week. I don’t like bye weeks.”
Cook said that Woodard has the potential to be a game-changer for Paschal. The return of wide receiver Ben Noel from a finger injury will be another boost for the offense heading out of the bye week.
Next week’s game against the Arlington Sam Houston Texans is at the forefront of every Paschal player’s mind. Cook said that the game plan is focused on preparing for Sam Houston’s exceptional speed.
“We’ve got to be sound football players and tackle well,” Cook said. “And on offense we can’t just depend on one or two players. It has to be a collective effort.”
Hanson said that the Texans’ defensive line is very active and quick, based on film. He said he has also noticed their great running backs and their mobile and talented quarterback, Kendall Jackson.
“They’re fast, really fast,” Hanson said. “We’ve got to come out, hit them in the mouth, and control the line of scrimmage.”
The Panthers hope to do just that and earn their first victory. The importance of a win over Sam Houston is paramount because it would give Paschal a 1-0 mark to start District play.
The Panthers travel to Wilemon Field to begin District 4-5A play against the Texans (0-3) on Friday, Sept. 23.