Coach: Eric Swenson, first season
League: Central Plains League
Last season: 3-7, lost in 3A first round
Returning starters: 16
Schedule: Sept.1, at Chaparral; Sept.8, Conway Springs; Sept.15, Trinity Academy; Sept. 22, at Garden Plain; Sept.29, Kingman; Oct.6, at Cheney; Oct.13, Bluestem; Oct.20, at Douglass; Oct.26, Belle Plaine.
Projected record: 3-6
Five top returning players
Three keys to the season
1. Swenson said that the team’s first key to success is staying injury-free. While there is talent on the roster, the lack of depth will be a factor. “We have to take care of our kids in practice and in games,” Swenson said. “We want to take our time, keep them breathing and keep them healthy.”
2. With the lack of depth, Swenson’s new offensive system includes a slower style of play. Swenson said that the system will take some time to learn, but once it’s picked up it can result in long drives. The offense, Swenson said, will help the Panthers manage the game better than they have in the past.
3. Having the underclassmen jell with the varsity. Independent has seven freshmen and Swenson is willing to increase that number to as many as 12 this season. His goal is to get the younger players on the field for a couple of plays to develop them for the future as well as provide some in-game rest for the upperclassmen.