At the beginning of each Lakeside practice, they have a banzai drill, running as many plays as possible in a five-minute period.
Throughout practice, head coach Jarrett Troxler matches the pace to what his no-huddle, up-tempo spread offense will be like during the 2012 season – fast.
“You’ve really got to be in shape to go against the offense because it’s non-stop,” said senior linebacker JaVeon Brigham.
Brigham, who recorded 80 tackles, including six sacks, helped the Panthers advance to the first round of the AAAA state playoffs in 2011. He is one of just four returning starters, however.
“Any time you replace a large number of seniors like we have, there’s a little uncertainty there, but we’re excited about the challenge,” said Troxler.
Hunter Banks steps in at quarterback, replacing Mark Weidenaar, the 2011 Region 2-AAAA Player of the Year, and Troxler likes what he has seen leading into the season.
“The coaches are calling the plays, but he’s got to run the show out there,” Troxler said. “He did a good job of that during the spring, during the summer. He worked in the system last year as a JV quarterback and he feels comfortable in that role.”
Giving Banks a weapon is returning junior Jonathan Edwards at wide receiver, a player Troxler called explosive. In his sophomore season, Edwards caught 38 passes for 381 yards and three touchdowns. Edwards likes what he has seen out on the field so far.
“I see us making it pretty far,” said Edwards. “We’re young but fast, really talented. I think we’re going to be pretty good.”
Troxler said he is looking forward to seeing what the guys up front can do, although they will be starting the season minus one of their stalwarts on the line. Senior Lee Bellmer suffered a stress fracture in his foot about five weeks ago and was operated on two weeks ago. The timetable for return is uncertain.
“I think we’ll be OK without me, but as soon as I can come back I’m happy to,” said Bellmer. “The hardest thing will be Friday night not being able to strap up and go out there with my brothers.”
While the Panthers’ early-season schedule is by no means a cakewalk, the team doesn’t play a region game until Sept. 28 with a bye week Sept. 14. That will help give Bellmer more time to recover and the Panthers time to iron out the early-season kinks.
“It helps a lot,” said Troxler of the schedule. “There’s nothing like game reps.”