Sterlington moves up to District 2-3A after Class 2A state title in 2017

In 2016, the Sterlington Panthers experienced a season for the history books as the Panthers advanced all the way through dramatic wins in the Class 2A quarterfinals, semifinals to New Orleans’ Mercedes Benz Superdome where Sterlington captured the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s (LHSAA) Class 2A state championship with a dramatic 28-27 victory over the top seeded Madison Prep Chargers.

In the off-season, Sterlington experienced the biggest changes out of any school in Northeast Louisiana (NELA).  First, the new LHSAA classification process brought Sterlington High School up from Class 2A to Class 3A.  Next, head football coach and athletic director Jason Thompson was promoted to an administrative position with the school.

To start 2017, Sterlington will be faced with a new district in District 2-3A and new head coach in Lee Doty. Doty was on the Sterlington football staff last year following a successful stint at St. Mary’s High School where Doty led the Tigers to the 2015 LHSAA Division IV state runner-up title.

Coach Doty is looking to continue the success the Panthers saw in Class 2A as Sterlington makes the move up to Class 3A.

“We need to improve every day and make a run in the playoffs,” Doty said.  “We have to maintain our discipline and stay healthy to be successful in 2017.”

If you ask any high school football coach, “Which two positions would you want the most experience coming back?”  The coach would probably say, “We need experience at quarterback and linebacker.”

The good news for the Sterlington faithful is that Panthers return two Class 2A First Team All-State players in both of the respective positions as quarterback Carson Clowers (5’10”, 145 pounds) and senior linebacker  Dawson Snell (6’0”, 205 pounds) look to continue the Panthers’ success in their senior seasons.

Last season, Clowers completed 59-of-97 passes for 1,263 yards and 15 touchdowns with two interceptions rushed for 491 yards and eight touchdowns which earned him a spot on the 2016 Louisiana Sports Writers’ Association (LSWA) Class 2A All-State first team at the quarterback position.

Joining Clowers in the Sterlington backfield is pair of junior running backs in C.J. Colvin (6’0”, 185 pounds) and Malik Davis (5’10”, 185 pounds).  While Colvin is a newcomer in the backfield, Davis has some experience.  In 2016, Davis rushed for 240 yards on 34 carries with 3 touchdowns while averaging 7.1 yards per carry.

The Sterlington receiving core is an impressive looking unit which features four wide receivers over six feet in height.  The Panther receivers are senior tight end Tucker Allen (5’11”, 185 pounds), senior Jake Houston (6’4”, 210 pounds), junior wide receiver Clay Vaughn (6’1”, 180 pounds), junior wide receiver Landon Greene (6’1”, 170 pounds) and senior wide receiver Brooks Rushworth (6’3”, 215 pounds).

Up front, the Sterlington offensive line will feature junior right tackle Trey Rugg (6’1”, 210 pounds), senior right guard Whitt Buffington (5’8”, 235 pounds), senior center Landon Jinks (6’0”, 225 pounds), sophomore left guard Brock Risinger (5’9”, 215 pounds), and left tackle Jack Anderson (6’2”, 210 pounds).

On the defensive side of the ball, Sterlington will look to the leadership of Snell who had 157 tackles, 108 solo tackles, 49 assists, 13 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, 1 pass deflection, 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery in 2016.

Joining Snell in the Panthers’ linebacker core is senior Chase Carter (6’0”, 185 pounds), junior Willie Holloway (6’0”, 185 pounds) and junior Tyler Kaffenburger (5’8”, 170 pounds).  Carter was fourth on the team in tackles in 2016 with 101 total tackles, 61 solo tackles, 40 assists, 2 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 1 interception (which he returned 50-yards), 2 pass deflections, .

Up front, Sterlington’s defensive line will have several players with experience.  Junior defensive tackle Colby Riveria (6’2”, 255 pounds), senior defensive tackle Bailyn McKoin (5’10”, 200 pounds), junior defensive end Chandler Moncrief (6’0”, 238 pounds), senior defensive end Tanner Coley (6’0”, 185 pounds) and senior nose guard Whitt Buffington (5’8”, 235 pounds) will anchor the Panthers’ defensive front.

Last season, Moncrief had 80 total tackles, 56 solo tackles, 24 assists, 8 tackles for loss, 5 sacks while Coley was in on50 total tackles, 32 solo tackles, 18 assists and 5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks.

The Sterlington defensive backfield will have senior strong safety Trevor Jones (5’8”, 165 pounds), sophomore free safety Dorian Eddins (5’8”, 160 pounds), junior defensive back Trey Eddin (6’2”, 185 pounds), senior defensive back Chris Parker (5’8”, 175 pounds), senior defensive back Austin Dupree (5’10”, 185 pounds) and sophomore defensive back Tyreece Washington (5’8”, 150 pounds).

On special teams, the Panthers return junior kicker Landon Greene (6’1”, 170 pounds) and junior punter Clay Vaughn (6’1”, 180 pounds).  Last season, Green was 62-of-71 on extra points and 3-of-10 on field goals with his long being of 34-yards.

Don’t let the stats fool you, Green was a key component of last year’s state championship run as the sophomore kicker nailed a game winning field goal in triple overtime in the Class 2A semifinal playoff game at Many and was 4-for-4 on extra points in the state championship game which saw Sterlington win the state title by one point.

Vaughn was victim of the misleading stats as Vaughn punted 16 times for 510-yards (averaged 31.9 per punt), but the key stat is that Vaughn placed 5 punts inside the opponents 20-yard line.

Clowers is slated to handle the holding duties while Riveria will be tasked as the long snapper.  Sophomore Cole Jones (5’9”, 160 pounds) is the Panthers gunner on special teams.

When asked his thoughts on the upcoming 2017 Sterlington Panthers’ varsity football schedule, head coach Lee Doty had a simple reply – “It’s a beast!”

Coach Doty could not be any more right as the Panthers’ 2017 schedule features three teams that were select Division quarterfinalist (Loyola Prep in Division II, Ouachita Christian in Division III and Calvary Baptist in Division III) in 2016 and eight of ten teams that earned a postseason appearance last season.

Sterlington will open the 2017 season on the road at Class 4A West Ouachita Chiefs on Friday, September 1.  In weeks two and three, the Panthers will be at home as Sterlington host the Ouachita Christian School (OCS) Eagles on Friday, September 8 and the Oak Grove Tigers on September 15.

Weeks four and five will see Sterlington take to the road to Shreveport as the Panthers play at Loyola Prep on Friday, September 22 and the Calvary Baptist Cavaliers on Friday, September 29 to close out its pre-district schedule.

Sterlington opens its District 2-3A schedule at home against the Carroll Bulldogs on Friday, October 6.  On Friday, October 13, the Panthers will travel down US Highway 165 South to Grady Jones Stadium to face the Wossman Wildcats.

Weeks eight and nine will see Sterlington hosting the Madison Parish Jaguars on Friday, October 20 and the Union Parish Fighting Farmers on Friday, October 27.  The Panthers will close out its regular and District 2-3A schedule at the Richwood Rams on Thursday, November 2.

STERLINGTON PANTHERS SIDE BAR

Sterlington Head Coach: Lee Doty (1st Season)

Sterlington Assistant Coaches: Bobby Breen, Adam Waugh, Larry Foster, Bucky Chandler, Randy Carr, David Jansen, Brandon Pierce, Mark Sims, R.J. Harrison, Tyler Buffington, Mike Moncrief

Sterlington Home Football Stadium: Panthers’ Stadium (Artificial Turf)

Sterlington Panthers’ Past Five Seasons:

2016 Overall Record: 13-2 District Record: 4-1 (District 2-2A Tri-Champions, Class 2A State Champions)

2015 Overall Record: 9-4 District Record: 2-3 (District 2-2A Third Place, Quarterfinal Playoff Qualifier)

2014 Overall Record: 10-4 District Record: 5-0 (District 2-2A Champions, Semifinal Playoff Qualifier)

2013 Overall Record: 8-4 District Record: 3-2 (District 2-2A Third Place, Regional Playoff Qualifier)

2012 Overall Record: 6-6 District Record: 4-1 (District 2-2A Runner-Up, Regional Playoff Qualifier)

State Championship Season(s): 1 – 2016

State Runner-Up Season(s): 2 – 2002, 2003

State Semifinalist Season(s): 9 – 1975, 1976, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2014, 2016

State Quarterfinalist Season(s): 14 – 1969, 1971, 1975, 1976, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2015, 2016

State Playoff Seasons: (24 playoff appearances / 1969, 1971, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)

Playoff Record: 38 wins – 23 losses