BY SAM SCINTA WEEKLY REPORTER
O’FALLON – As the Dog Days of Summer wind into a new school year, the O’Fallon Township High School football team has been hard at work on the gridiron in preparation for the upcoming 2016 season.
The Panthers will open the season as the #88 team in the state, according to MaxPreps.com.
“We’re hoping to see some improvement on the offensive line. We have some guys on there that we like a lot and that saw some time on the field last season that we hope turns into a lot of growth at that position,” Head Coach Brandon Joggerst told the Weekly.
Seniors Malik Giddens, Brooks Dalton, and De’andre Crawley will be tasked with guarding junior quarterback and returning starter Christian Perez, whose improvement has Joggerst optimistic.
Perez will have a talented corps of targets to throw to this season, with seniors Deion Norfleet, Darryl Cobb Jr. and junior Ronnie Anthony all expected to play a large role in the Panther air attack.
But this offense will run through senior running back and captain, Mason Hewitt, who will also benefit from the expected boost in offensive line play.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Panthers were plagued with the loss of several starters, but Coach Joggerst felt he had the talent put in place to put together a solid defensive unit. “Zaine Roe, our (senior) linebacker, will be the key to our defense. We also bring back a few other guys, like (junior outside linebacker) Richard Cosey and a few other defensive lineman sprinkled in. I think it’s a good group,” Joggerst said.
Panther special teams will have to recover from the loss of kicker/punter Tucker McCann, a five-star recruit and Kohls Kicking Academy’s #1 recruit, who will begin his freshman season with the University of Missouri Tigers this year in Columbia. O’Fallon will have options replacing McCann though, with senior Noah Tenllado, junior Dylan Reno, and sophomore Brooks Hackney all listed on the season’s depth chart.
O’Fallon will start the 2016 campaign in Florissant, Missouri, when they take on Hazelwood Central on August 27th. The Panther’s home opener will take place the following Friday when the Blue and Gold play host to Normal West High School at the Panther Athletic Complex. OTHS will stay home the following week with a test against the Belleville West Maroons before perhaps their toughest game of the year when they travel north to Edwardsville to take on the Tigers in a key rivalry game.
The Panthers will return home for games against the Alton Redbirds and the Granite City Warriors before a road test against the Kahoks of Collinsville. O’Fallon finishes their schedule with a home game against Belleville East and then a road match up in East St. Louis to take on the Flyers.
“They’re just excited to see some different colored jerseys on the other side of the field,” Joggerst told the Weekly. “We’re ready to go.”