LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – On Tuesday our 6 Sports Two-A-Days coverage took us to DeWitt, it was our first stop of the day, and senior quarterback Tyler Holtz is going to be comfy-cozy in the pocket this year.
The Panthers offensive line ranges in height from 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-6 and some even weigh in over 300 pounds. So yeah, they are ready to protect their dual-threat quarterback and Holtz approves.
“I mean, as a quarterback what more can you ask for right?,” said Holtz. “Those have been three underclassman who have taken those roles and they’re huge, they’re big, and they’re nasty that’s for sure.”
“We’ll see,” said Panthers’ coach Rob Zimmerman. “We haven’t got to put the pads on yet, you know? So we’ll see where we’re at but certainly the size is a nice thing. We don’t generally have a lot of big guys around here. We’ve won an awful lot of games with smarts, toughness, and athleticism, and having some size certainly is a plus. With our scheme and what we’re going to do with our athletes it certainly will help us.”
Just two days into practice Zimmerman has been impressed with what he’s seeing from his guys and is confident with who will be stepping in to some starting roles this year. Running back and linebacker Andrew Debri graduated, but his little brother Bryce is right there and ready to take the reigns.
“For me, I feel like I’m feeling more responsible to take a bigger role this year,” said Debri. “To portray more leadership has been big for me and a bunch of these seniors now, with some of the guys that left last year, that were great leaders for us.”
With Holtz returning along with Debri, and wide receivers Nicholas Flegler and Tommy McIntosh the Panthers are in great shape offensively to repeat as state champions in Division 3 and that is the goal.
“I think our whole approach has been a little bit different when people bring up the whole defend thing and to us, defend means nothing because we have new guys,” said Zimmerman. “We have the same mentality we had last year. We’re going after it and every team that’s on our schedule, I mean we’re going to give them our best shot and we’re chasing the state tile.”
Up US-127 North from Panther Country, at St. Johns High School, the Redwings were bringing the ‘boom’ to their drills. They have a flock of guys who know how to hit and after coming off a tough 2-5 season last year they’re out for some redemption.
This will be Andy Schmitt’s third year at the helm at his alma mater so how do they plan on turning the tide?
“Well I think it definitely leaves a bad taste in your mouth for a whole offseason,” said Schmitt. “You know I’ve worked tremendously hard as a coach and I know our guys have worked tremendously hard this offseason as well to hopefully not put ourselves into that position again. All we can do is show up every day and work hard and have great effort, and great attitude. Hopefully what we’ve done this offseason can help us move forward to those next steps in the program.”
“We’re a family at this point,” said senior linebacker Braylon Thelen. “We’re so tight and we’ve got a lot of strong guys. We’ve got guys who’ve been working. I mean we have the talent to make it. We’ve got the size up front. We really have a chance I feel like this year.”