Panthers emphasizing toughness in spring practice

Published 11:43 am Thursday, May 2, 2024

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Lanett laced knocked the dust off the helmets and started spring football practice on Tuesday. The Panthers have three weeks of practice planned, with an intrasquad scrimmage set to wrap things up on the final day. 

Lanett fielded an extremely young team last season. All of those sophomores and freshmen last season got a year of experience under their belts and are looking to lead the way this season. The coaching staff is treating the spring like a more intense football camp. 

“I told the coaches, treat it like an intense camp. Do an hour and a half, 45 minutes of offense and 45 minutes of defense,” Lanett coach Chip Seagle said. “We normally go really fast. [We’re] slowing it down and teaching.” 

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The spring serves as the first opportunity for teams to get pads on and practice physicality. Seagle believes that being able to hear the contact if you were “blind” or had your eyes closed is a good sign of the energy and toughness of your football team. 

It’s still extremely early in the process, but the Panthers have been hard at work in the weight room since the end of the season, and some players are already starting to stand out as leaders. 

Kingston Gooden started for Lanett as a sophomore and showed flashes of the type of lineman he could be. This winter and spring, Seagle has seen Gooden take an extra step from a leadership standpoint.

“We’re very pleased with Kingston Gooden’s progression as a football player,” Seagle said. “He is definitely a leader. He is our bell cow, and he is a lineman. You don’t see that much nowadays with leaders being linemen because the world has gone skill position crazy.” 

Lanett will carry more upperclassmen this season, but several key positions are undecided leading into the spring and summer schedule. The starting quarterback role will be at the top of the position battles throughout the spring. 

Riontae Ziegler and Fred Broughton each spent time at quarterback last season along with Alajawon Whitfield. Ziegler and Broughton will be duking it out for the starting spot leading into the fall. 

“We have a quarterback battle,” Seagle said. “They’re both good players. Whichever one doesn’t end up being the starting quarterback will be starting somewhere else on the field.” 

The offensive line has looked like the strongest group leading into spring practice. Jeremiah McGillberry started for the Panthers as a sophomore, and he saw major improvements in the weight room during the winter. 

Jaylen Hill has become one of the more dominant forces on Lanett’s offensive line. Hill already stands at six-foot-four and around 280 pounds as a rising sophomore. Hill has also taken advice from assistant coach Branquavious Bussey and become a sponge for information. 

“He really latched on to coach Bussey and stayed after school all winter getting extra work in and that was after getting work in during the fourth block,” Seagle said. “He’s led by example, even though he’s young. We stress that age is just a number.” 

Some coaches around the state have gone away from a traditional spring practice schedule, but Seagle emphasizes its importance. The Panthers still have a relatively young team, and reps in the spring are invaluable to the younger players.