Though the Ford Panthers had an 8-4 record last season and won a playoff game, this season could be much more difficult, as coach Todd Wallace has lost 19 seniors.
Just five starters are returning for the 2013 Panthers. Among those is running back Jon Humphries, who put up 632 yards rushing last season in under 100 carries. Humphries also had 77 tackles on defense.
Defensive lineman Jerry McNeil and defensive back Welton McCluskey are two other returning starters on defense. McNeil had 58 tackles (8 tackles for loss) and McCluskey had 46 tackles (7 for loss).
Offensive lineman David Allen returns, and he’ll need to continue to produce as much as he has, as he had 42 pancakes last season.
But five returning starters don’t make a full team, so coach Wallace will have to rely on a lot of youth in priority positions. Quarterback Bryce Evilsizer will get his first varsity start this season, and other youths include tight ends Markus Laurent and Logan Lane.
Non-district play should be a good proving ground for the Panthers, as they start the season with consecutive away games, traveling to Troup (9-2 bi-district finalist, 4-1 in District 9-2A DI) and then to Nevada Community (4-6, 0-4 in District 12-3A). Ford gets a bit of a breather against Mabank (1-9, 0-5 in District 15-3A) and then travels to Ferris (5-5 bi-district finalist, 2-1 in District 11-3A). The toughest challenge could come against North Lamar (5-6 bi-district finalist, 3-2 in District 13-3A) before closing non-district play at Bonham (3-8 bi-district finalist, 2-2 in District 12-3A).
If the Panthers can survive their non-district schedule, then district games shouldn’t be overwhelmingly difficult, as Ford High School was the only team to finish with a winning record last season. With four teams advancing this year, the Panthers only have to perform better than one team to make the playoffs.
Head Coach: Todd Wallace 2012 Results: 8-4 Area-Finalist, 3-1 in District 14-3A Top Players RB Jon Humphries, Sr., 5-11, 185; Rushing 99-632 yards, 5 TD; 77 tackles. DB Welton McCluskey, Sr., 5-11, 150; 46 tackles, 7 tackles for loss. OL David Allen, Sr., 6-1, 255; 42 pancakes.