PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - If you like points, look no further than Pascagoula. The Panthers return their starting quarterback, two of their three leading rushers, and four of their five leading receivers from last year. If the pieces fit to the puzzle as expected, the Panthers could put on quite the fireworks show week in and week out.
“Everything hinges on the offensive line and how much they develop and gel before the end of the season and region play,” head coach Lewis Sims said. “The sky is the limit for the offensive side of the ball.”
Returning at quarterback is sophomore Keilon Parnell. The Mississippi State baseball commit had some flashes last year as a freshman, but now with a year of experience under his belt, he’s ready to take the next step as a player, and a leader.
“I learned a lot. A lot of maturity came, leadership,” Parnell told WLOX. “The game slowed down a little bit. I’m just ready to play now.”
His talent speaks for itself, but perhaps his greatest asset isn’t measured in the box score.
“When he was in the huddle, you didn’t think he was a freshman. That’s one of the big things that you can’t teach,” Sims highlighted.
“The moment isn’t too big for him. He’s able to rise to the challenge. He has a maturity about him that’s uncanny for someone who is 15 years old.”
But it's not just the offense. Senior linebacker Karon Leverette led the team with 92 total tackles last year and is ready to step into a leadership role for a unit that got to the quarterback for 18 sacks in 2019.
“We like to call ourselves the clean up crew. We love to hit,” senior linebacker Kavon Leverette told WLOX. “We base our defense off hitting hard and running to the ball. We’re going to hit you, and we’re going to hit you right in the mouth.”
Last year's team posted a 6-5 record before losing by just three points in the first round of the postseason. While a postseason berth is an accomplishment for any program, the 2020 Panthers are looking for a little more.
“No longer do we just want to compete, we want to contend. Our attitude is that we are contenders,” Sims said.
“Every day of practice we tell them, no longer do we want to compete, we want to contend. Do whatever it takes to contend every single day.”
Pascagoula will host George County Friday, September 4th at 7 p.m.