It was a hot, hot day at Bradley Field this past Saturday as the Panthers began the 2016 season with their first scrimmage against the Dots of Poca. The day began with a formal thank you and the passing of a CCHS Panther jersey to the head coach of Poca for the outstanding support shown by Poca High School to the Panther football team during their rebuilding after the flood. Once the handshakes, hugs and prayer were over it was time for football; all bets were off and no quarter was given. As most people know, the scrimmage is an opportunity to get the bugs out of your game prior to the season starting. Coaches on both sides of the grass watched as their teams got rid of early season jitters and took real hits for the first time this season. The Panthers did extremely well on defense – the Panther line was much faster off the ball and penetrated their backfield with ease. There is a little work to be done on the offensive side of the ball, but as the game progressed the offense got better. From where I stood, I saw a team that was fired up to get the season underway and to prove that the Panther team is alive and well despite the issues that have plagued them recently. The coaches have set high standards and the boys seem ready to give the Clay County fans 100% pure football. Anyone who doesn’t think that the Panthers have the drive to win this year needs to come and watch them play. The team has a bench to go to and will have enough quality players to fill the voids from last year. It will take some work but the talent is there. On the offense and defensive line the Panthers are beefed up and tough as rhinos on a dance floor. New head coach Jason Nichols, along with a good coaching staff to back him up, will implement some new strategies this season, and by the first game will be ready to set the Panthers free to put some wins on the board. Don’t let this year pass by without supporting the team, the band and the cheerleaders. They all have worked very hard in the off season to overcome some difficult hurdles to just get to suit up. The Panthers will play once again this Saturday against Midland Trail in another scrimmage before the regular season gets underway, so come out and support our youth, they deserve it. While we eat nachos, they smash heads. Go Panthers.