Although the new football season is still a couple of months away from getting underway, the Nease football team and their fans got a taste of what’s to come during the green and gold game at Panther Stadium May 12.
The passion and excitement surrounding the upcoming season was on display as a good crowd was on hand to watch the scrimmage take place.
A major question heading into spring that continues to sort itself out is the competition taking place in the Nease quarterback room as the search is on to find the replacement for Marcus Stokes, who was the Panthers’ starting signal caller the past two seasons.
There were plenty of plays made that got the crowd on their feet on both sides of the ball, as head coach Collin Drafts wanted to promote competition and the contest produced just that.
Running back Cam Smith will be a senior in the fall and he continued to establish himself as one of the Panthers’ most reliable offensive weapons next season with a stellar performance that included a pair of touchdown runs and several other bursts into the secondary.
According to Drafts, Smith really came on with more reps coming his way as his junior season wore on, and he has carried over the momentum he had into the spring.
“We’re going to roll with him, and he looked like a million bucks tonight,” Drafts said.
As a senior, Smith knows that he will be saddled with more of a leadership role heading into next season, and it is a challenge he is fully embracing.
“I’m ready for it,” Smith said. “I’m not really one to be super vocal but I like to lead by example and let my play on the field do my talking for me. It’s a great group of guys we’ve got and I’m ready to help my team any way I need to.”
The running lanes were also there for Smith to take advantage of for most of the night, as the Panthers will look to lean on a veteran offensive line in the fall.
One of those veterans is Demarco Blackmon, who will be a senior next school year, and is making the transition from guard to the starting center position.
“It felt really good to be back out there with these guys,” Blackmon said. “I’m continuing to work on my communication and my hand placement at center, but we’ve all kind of grown up together and it’s nice to know that we’ve got each other’s back along the line.”
The Nease program is in a healthy place as a whole right now, with interest continuing to surround it and the result is having 115 students taking part in spring practice, and that number does not even include incoming freshman that will be joining the team.
“Everybody played and it just continues the great spring we’ve had so far staying fairly healthy and just getting guys the reps, they need to continue to develop,” Drafts said.
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