Panthers preparing for a new season
MCHS hoping that experience will pay off
Sam Green/Cortez Journal
The 21st century has not been a good one for Montezuma-Cortez High School football. Wins have been rare, blowout losses have been common, and overall, the program has been unable to realize any sort of sustained success.
Hoping to turn things around, this year’s Panther team will rely on quality athletes at a few key skill positions, as well as an improved offensive and defensive line. According to Head Coach Casey Coulter, improvement is the key.
“We’re still young,” said Coulter. “Our core group is composed of sophomores and juniors. Our goal for this season is to improve on last season and continue to get better.”
Leading the core group of juniors to which Coulter was referring will be third-year quarterback Jonathan Walck. Clearly more bulky than last season, Walck will look to use his strong arm and powerful running skills to spark to the Panthers’ offense.
Hoping to complement Walck as a running back/wide receiver all-purpose-player, junior Randy Haley will attempt to use his speed and size to open up the field. According to Haley, helping the Panthers compile more wins than losses is the ultimate goal.
“Our goal is to get a winning record,” said Haley. “As an individual, I would like to have over 100 tackles on defense and contribute as much as I can on offense. At the end of the day, I want to win.”
New to this year’s Panther passing attack will be tight ends Noah Galyon and David Skaggs, who hope to add a new wrinkle to the offense.
“(Skaggs and Galyon) will both be a big part of what we are doing,” said Coulter. “(Tight ends) are not something that we’ve had in the past. We didn’t have those bodies, but we do now, so we’re going to use them.”
In light of the importance of protecting Walck, opening running lanes for Haley and pressuring opposing quarterbacks, Coulter is hoping that this year’s offensive and defensive lines will be much improved.
“Our big guys up front are going to have to step up and help us out a lot more this year,” said Coulter. “They’re upperclassmen now. They’re not the little babies that they were (last year).”
Competing in the always-tough West Slope League, this year’s Panthers team will open the season at home on Aug. 30 against perennial power, Cedaredge. The Panthers will then travel on the road to face Battle Mountain on Sept. 6.
Highlighting this year’s schedule will be a Sept. 13 home game against a tough Palisade squad and a Nov. 1 showdown against rival Durango.
While this year’s Panther football team is clearly a work in progress, there is little doubt that team members intend to work and play hard.
“I try to keep everybody motivated, make sure everybody does their job right and make sure everybody is playing hard,” said Walck. “The experience that we have is going to make a difference for us.”
Hopefully, such motivation and experience will translate into a successful 2013 season for Cortez Panther football.