Team name: Smiths Station Panthers
2012 record: 5-5, 3-4
How finished in region: Fifth
Playoff result: Did not make playoffs
Key losses: Doniaven Kilpatrick, Tim Hester, Anfernee Moffett
Key returnees: J.J. Dancy, Johnny Woods, Devonte Marshall, Jerrell Gilmore
My take: In 2012, Smiths Station did enough to show us that it was headed in the right direction. They beat the teams they should have (3-0 against teams that did not make the playoffs in their respective classifications) and lost to most of the teams that were better (2-5 against teams that did make the playoffs).
Still, the Panthers nearly found a way to sneak into the playoffs.
The bad news is that they’ll lose some solid talent on the defensive side of the ball. Leading tacklers Anfernee Moffett, Tim Hester and Doniaven Kilpatrick are all gone, leaving a void that must be filled with new starters.
The good news is that the offense is very much intact. The majority of the team’s production will return, which means continued improvement on that side of the ball.
On defense throughout the spring and summer, coaches are likely trying out different players in different spots, trying to find out where each player can be most successful and, at the same time, what combination works out best for the team.
If Smiths Station can find that combination, then it should be fine come the fall. It has enough athletic talent on the offensive side of the ball to contend in a lot of games.
Don’t forget, though, that it plays in one of the tougher regions in the Class 6A. While it may improve, it still must make major gains on Auburn, Opelika, Carver-Montgomery and Central to really contend for a playoff spot.
Follow along every day for a look at football teams around the Bi-City area. Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.
April 29: Brookstone
April 30: Calvary Christian
May 1: Carver
May 2: Central
May 3: Chattahoochee County
May 4: Columbus
May 5: Harris County
May 6: Glenwood
May 7: Hardaway
May 8: Jordan
May 9: Kendrick
May 10: Northside
May 11: Pacelli
May 12: Russell County
May 13: Shaw