Third-year head coach Alex Stewart is excited for the upcoming season at Western and is proud of the team for how far it has come.
The Panthers have come a long way in the past few years, from a 2-8 season in 2015 and a 3-7 season in 2016 to an impressive turnaround in 2017 with a 7-5 season and a 7-3 season in 2018.
“We’ve got a good group of seniors, kids that have been with me the past three years,” Stewart said. “And they bought in and worked really hard and really, really worked hard to turn the program around since I’ve been here. Overall, we’ve got a lot of guys back off of last year’s team, a lot of quality players, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines. We’ve got our quarterback from last year, Jett Engle, and we have a running back who played a lot last year as a sophomore. His name’s Jerry Padgett. (He) rushed for around 500 yards last season.”
Currently, there are 61 players on Western’s roster. The team has spent numerous hours in the weight room, not only this summer but also year-round, training for the season. The Panthers also have been practicing a lot of seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 competitions over the summer.
In week two, the Panthers face Western Boone High School, which was the Class 2A state champion in 2018. That will be a big challenge for the team early in the season, Stewart said, but the Panthers have been working hard in the off-season to prepare for it.
“Our goal is to always just get better every single day we go out there,” Stewart said. “I think if you work hard and you do the right things and you take care of the little things and you work on going 1-0 every day, that’s kind of our philosophy. We want to go 1-0 every day. Then the wins take care of themselves.”
Stewart still was undecided on who will be playing the starting positions but said he has a pretty good idea with the majority of the team returning from last year. However, there have been some boys who have worked to earn an opportunity to compete for positions.
The Panthers’ season will begin in the scrimmage at Mt. Vernon High School this Friday, Aug. 16, at 7 p.m.