Panthers Prep for Strong Season

Cameron Coleman runs the ball at Grigby Field during the scrimage against SBVC. Photo by Michael Ravenelle.

By Daniel Steele

The Panthers' preseason practice has ended, and the team's final skirmish will mark the start of what head coach Rod Hadaway believes to be a promising season.

Hadaway sees a lot of promise in the amount of backup players he has, and along with his veterans, he views this mix as a valuable asset.

"There's depth and there's experience. I think that helps us tremendously," he said.

This year saw a wide open competition for the quarterback position, which was given to John Aldridge. He proved himself as backup quarterback the previous year and again with the two most recent skirmishes.

He said he has high hopes for the upcoming season.

"My goal is to lead our team to the first state championship and be recognized nationally," he said.

Other members of his offensive side like Jacob Whitmer, tight-end, and Jack Balderrama, lineman, have similar ambitions, noting the state championship as their ultimate goal.

One of the Panthers' most distinguished talent is Ronald Rudd III, who Hadaway describes as "a very dominant player." Rudd was a defensive lineman in high school, but the coaches saw his value as an offensive player.

When it comes to their offense, the Panthers have many newcomers willing to prove their worth on the field. Because of this, Hadaway doesn't know exactly what he's working with until the season's fifth week.

"The receiver group in itself is as deep as it's ever been, but we're very young," Hadaway said. "That'll be a position that some kids are going to have to step up to right away."

The aspects of the game Hadaway emphasizes most to his players both on and off the field are consistency, accountability and professionalism. He believes these make up the right ingredients to guide his players toward success.

"We don't give these guys a whole lot of room for mistakes, but kids make choices and they don't always make the right choices. There are consequences for your actions. We talk about accountability every day," he said, adding that players inconsistent in the weight room, in class and on the field don't stick around very long.

Hadaway and the coaching staff examined Citrus College's skirmish with Mt. Sac last Thursday to gain a better understanding of their upcoming competition. Chaffey will play its first game against Citrus on Saturday, Sep. 3 at 6 p.m.

"We'll get busy on them," Hadaway said, referring to Citrus' team.