Key Players/Coaches Cite Reasons for Success
Following the Woodland Park Panthers’ impressive winning streak, with five straight victories and a number of routs, the coaching staff and players are estatic about their recent success.
This could become the first Panther football team to see playoff action in years, and excitement has never been higher.
The team has made a giant turnaround from last year And with five consecutive wins (the results of the Florence game weren’t available as of this article writing) under their belt, they are guaranteed to have their first winning season the team has had for more than 20 years. Needless to say, playoff fever is brewing and local stands have sported huge crowds.
The team has only two games left and the players are hopeful that they will see postseason play this year. All of the players mentioned that their success is due to the players and staff meshing together well as a team.
According to the team’s starting quarterback, Junior Bryce Broeker, the coaching staff has also contributed greatly to the Panthers’ recent success. “I would say definitely that our coaching staff is fantastic,” Broeker said. “We have a great offensive and defensive game plan that we go over every week so that we’re prepared to execute what we are going to do on Friday over the week of practice. That definitely helps because we know what we want to accomplish against the team we are playing. We have the expectation that our game plan is going to work based on film and statistics.”
Senior offensive lineman Noah Nelson has said that he has personally grown over the last several years of his football career, and he now knows how to play every position. “Our defense is really good, we are in the top four of allowing the least amounts of points,” Nelson said. “The offensive line really controls our offense, if we do a good job then all of the quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers get to look good when they make it into the end zone.”
Sophomore fullback and linebacker Aidan Hood is on the team for the second year and he has played a vital role on both offense and defense. “I definitely think our bond with each other and being able to trust each other to do our jobs is one thing that really helps in the long run, especially on defense,” Hood said.
The team’s head coach, Chad Drummond ,said that he has tried to create a winning culture within the team all across the board.
“For me it always comes down to empowering our players and having a fun and joyous place to go to,” Drummond said. “The reality is football should be fun. It should provide something to your school for pride and you should be doing something in the community. To me, the success is actually a byproduct of what we are doing as a program. We have been focusing on the kids making sure that they love the program and want to be a part of it. And making sure they are engaged in their academics and they are engaged in the community doing service hours. I truly believe that really equates as much to the success of the team as the hard work we put on the practice field.”
Ways They Can Improve
Despite having one of their most successful seasons in recent years, the coach and the players think there are some ways that they can still improve. “We haven’t even come close to playing our best game yet,” the coach said. “We have made a gazillion mistakes. Fortunately, we have been able to overcome those. But, the reality is if we can put together our best game, we give a lot of teams’ fits.”
The Panther quarterback said that the team just needs to keep up what they have been doing. “I would say that there is not a specific thing we need to improve on, we just need to keep our intensity up and not let down after our five game winning streak,” Broeker said. “We just need to not let that get to our head and keep pushing ourselves to be the best that we can.”
The lineman Nelson reiterated similar sentiments as his quarterback. “We just need to make sure people get their jobs done,” Nelson said. “Don’t worry about anyone else, just worry about yourself and getting your job done.”
Panthers Have a Good Chance at the Playoffs
According to Coach Drummond, the top 16 teams in the 2A league will see a playoff game. The top eight teams during the season will earn a home playoff game.
As of last week, the Panthers were sitting in eighth place statewide in 2A football. If the Panthers can keep their rank for the next two weeks, they will host a playoff game.
The postseason would then consist of three playoff games before the state championship. And even if the Panthers lose one more game, they could still qualify for a playoff spot.