HARROGATE, Tenn. — A change in offensive philosophy is also bring about a change in attitude for the Cumberland Gap Panthers in 2014.
Along with making the switch from the spread to an I formation, the team is bringing a more physical style of play to field and it’s evident in watching them practice.
“That’s something that we’ve got to be. Playing in the league that we play in and against the teams that we play — nine of the ten teams that we play are our classification or bigger and five of them are 4A or 5A. That’s just the style of ball that we’ve got to play,” Panther coach Corey Russell said.
The team will be lining up in a lot of double-tight end sets and trying to impose their will on opposing defense. Seniors Brandon Bailey at tailback and Devon Helton at fullback will be relying on a lot of new faces on the offensive line to pave the way.
While the team may lack experience up front, as a group they’ve got good size and Russell has been pleased with their effort.
“Everybody is coming along and working hard. We’ve got a lot of sophomores and a couple of freshmen that are going to be playing for us this year,” he said. “We’re going to be young, but they’re doing a great job right now of locking in at practice and doing what they should be doing. It’s a day-by-day thing, we’ve just got to show up every day and go to work.”
The Panthers are working to develop two platoons of starters for both the offensive and defensive line. The ones are able to hold their own going against each other, but depth remains a concern.
“We don’t have as much depth as I would like, but we’re never going to have that,” Russell added. “It doesn’t matter who is in there, whoever is in has got to do the same things mechanically as the guy ahead of them. That’s what were working at right now to bring everybody along because we’re going to need everybody.”
Cumberland Gap hosts 5A Campbell County in their season opener on Aug. 22.