It would be a mistake to overlook Derby this season. Yes, the Panthers lost Devin Hedgepeth (the do it all man) on the offensive side of the ball. Yes the defense will be young.
But both sides have outstanding talents and great leaders in quarterback Tyler Harrison and linebacker Dillon Call to keep the team above high ground, not to mention a coach in Brandon Clark who has done nothing but improve the Panthers in all aspects of the game since taking over a squad that went in 2005.
Harrison has the physical tools to be a Division I quarterback and has spent considerable time over the summer developing a report with new No. 1 receiver Ethan Jewell and his other weapons. He thinks his offensive line is much improved and is confident in its pass and run block abilities, which could spell a big year for new No. 1 running back Evan Oaks. In most aspects even coach Clark agreed that his offense would probably be more potent this year.
The defense remains an unknown however. Clark pointed out that kids from a pretty successful junior varsity defense last year will move up and be expected to make plays. If they learn by example then the Panthers should be in good hands. Call led the team with about 80 tackles last year and added six sacks as a sophomore.
We have Derby entering the playoffs with a 7-2 record and its only regular season losses dealt by the hands of Heights and Hutchinson.
Any thoughts on how the Panthers will do?