Some members of the Lakeside High football team saw live action Tuesday for the first time since the end of the 2011 season.
The Panthers matched up with Lincoln County for two hours at Lakeside in an unscored 7-on-7 passing league scrimmage.
Getting work against the Red Devils helped the Panthers prepare for this weekend’s Palmetto State Showdown at Byrnes High School in Duncan, S.C.
The 20-team field in the passing tournament will include schools from as far away as New Jersey (Bergen Catholic) and pedigreed teams such as host and defending champion Byrnes. Bergen Catholic and Byrnes were nationally ranked 17th and 13th, respectively, in a preseason top 25 poll.
The winner of the event will receive an automatic bid to the National Select 7-on-7 Championship in Hoover, Ala., July 26-28.
“We’re going to see some of the nation’s top programs,” said Lakeside head coach Jarrett Troxler. “In 2008, we went down to Hoover, so that was a lot of fun. Obviously, we want to compete and get better, but we want to win, too, and get a chance to go to Hoover.”
While the 7-on-7 passing tournament pits just offensive skill positions against defensive skill positions, winning might be a difficult task for the Panthers. They are a young team returning just two starters on offense and two on defense. Also, they have to replace quarterback Mark Weidenaar, who is the 2011 Region 2-AAAA Player of the Year.
However, Troxler has high hopes for Hunter Banks, who is for Weidenaar’s replacement.
“He’s progressing,” Troxler said of Banks. “He impressed me this spring and he’s only going to get better, I think.. He’s a hard worker, watches film, does exactly what we coach him to do and is just a great kid.”
For his part, Banks will try to play his game and not worry about living up to what his predecessor accomplished.
”I’m not going to run a 4.4 40 like Mark,” said Banks. “That’s out of the question. They’re strategizing the offense to help me out.”
Banks was one of five quarterbacks getting work Tuesday, and just as importantly, the defense was put through its paces.
“I think the defense has a lot of things to work on,” said senior strong safety JaVeon Brigham.
While matter-of-fact about the Tuesday night skirmish with Lincoln County, Brigham brightened considerably when talking about the Palmetto State Showdown.
“I’m very excited,” Brigham said. “I’m ready to see some new teams. It will be a pretty good icebreaker to get a feel of what real teams are like.”