The Sterlington Panthers enter year two of the coach Lee Doty era and looking to continue the established recent success that have seen the Panthers capture the 2016 Class 2A state championship, two state semifinal appearances (2014, 2016), four consecutive trips to quarterfinals (2014, 2016, 2015, 2017) while earning 8 consecutive a playoff berths (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017).
With a winning tradition clearly established, Sterlington will need to simply reload rather than rebuild.
Replacing the graduated quarterback Carson Clowers will be a key in the Sterlington offensive development. Junior Hayes Crocket (6’4”, 205 pounds), who transferred from Prairie View, and sophomore Brody Green are battling to fill the quarterback position for the Panthers.
Last season at Prairie View, Crockett was a duel threat quarterback as he completed 116-of-212 passes for 1,799 yards with 13 touchdowns and 3 interceptions while raking up 1,049-yards on 172 carries with 17 rushing touchdowns which garnered him Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) All-District 5-AA Offensive Most Valuable Player.
Sterlington returns a veteran running back core with senior tailback C.J. Colvin, senior fullback Malik Davis and junior tailback Dallas Reagor. In last season’s season opener, Colvin went down with season ending injury in the season opener at West Ouachita which aided in the development of Davis and Reagor to offer Coach Doty a “Three Headed Monster” at the running back position.
Senior wide receiver Clay Vaughn (6’1”, 160 pounds), senior wide receiver Reid Handy, junior wide receiver Layton Rainbolt (6’0”, 170 pounds) and sophomore tight end Hixson Street will make up the Sterlington receiving core.
Rainbolt, like Crockett, is another transfer from Prairie View Academy. In his sophomore year at Prairie View, Rainbolt, who primarily played running back for the Spartans, rushed for 1,283-yards on 168 carries with 20 rushing touchdowns while also making 34 catches for 456 yards and a touchdown.
Rainbolt’s stats were good enough for him to be named to All-MAIS Class 2A first team (which is comparable to All-State accolades) and MAIS All-District 5-2A first team honors as a running back.
Up front, Sterlington will see the return of senior offensive tackle Trey Rugg and senior offensive guard Jack Anderson (6’2”, 210 pounds) that will complement the addition of junior offensive guard Brock Risinger (5’7”, 180 pounds), junior offensive lineman Braden Bruscato and senior offensive lineman Tyler Hitt (6’1”) to the Panthers’ offensive line.
On the defensive side of the ball, Sterlington will move from a 4-2-5 defensive alignment to a 4-3 base in a move that will allow for easier adjustments while keeping duties simpler for the players to understand and make plays.
Senior defensive lineman Colby Rivera (6’2”, 275 pounds), junior defensive lineman Luke Carmichael, senior defensive end Bryce Still and senior defensive end Justin Fuller (6’2”, 150 pounds) will see action on the Panthers’ defensive front.
Sterlington looks to have plenty of depth in its linebacker unit. Junior Jordan Townsend, senior Willie Holloway (5’11”, 185 pounds), senior Tyler Kaffenberger (5’7”, 160 pounds), junior Seth Temple and junior Cole Jones are vying for playing time at linebacker.
Senior defensive back Trey Eddins (6’1”, 180 pounds), junior defensive back Dorian Eddins (5’7”, 140 pounds), junior safety Reece Brooks and senior safety Landon Green will be the starters in the Panthers’ defensive secondary.
Landon Green enters his fourth season as the Panther’s kicker. In his first three seasons, Green has successfully converted 123-of-137 extra-point kicks (89.78 % conversion rate on extra points) and has been 8-of-24 on field goals with a long of 40-yards.
Green will always be remembered for kicking an 18-yard field field goal in the third overtime at Many in the 2016 Class 2A semifinal playoffs that sent Sterlington to the Class 2A state championship game.
Vaughn will handle the punting duties for Sterlington this season.
Sterlington opens its 2018 regular season by hosting the Class 4A West Ouachita Chiefs on Friday, August 31.
The Panthers will take to the road in weeks 2 and 3 as Sterlington travels down Highway 165 South to face the Ouachita Christian School (OCS) Eagles on Friday, September 7 and the Oak Grove Tigers on September 14.
In weeks four and five, Sterlington plays host to the Loyola Prep Flyers on Friday, September 21 and the Calvary Baptist Cavaliers on Friday, September 28 to close out its pre-district schedule.
Sterlington opens its District 2-3A schedule by traveling to Carroll’s Thomas – Blade Memorial Stadium to square off against the Carroll Bulldogs on Friday, October 7.
On Friday, October 14, the Wossman Wildcats invade Sterlington’s Panther Stadium for another key District 2-3A showdown.
In weeks eight and nine, Sterlington will again take to the road by traveling to Tallulah, LA to battle the Madison Parish Jaguars on Friday, October 21 and the Union Parish Fighting Farmers on Friday, October 28.
The Panthers will close out its regular and District 2-3A schedule by hosting the Richwood Rams on Thursday, November 1 in one of the 2018 football season’s marque match-ups.
Richwood and Sterlington split their series last season with Sterlington defeating the Rams 28-21 at Richwood in week 10 last season for the District 2-3A championship while Richwood returned the favor in the Class 3A quarterfinals at Sterlington with a 15-14 victory that ended the Panthers’ undefeated season while Richwood continued all the way to state title game where they claimed the Class 3A state runner-up title.
STERLINGTON PANTHERS SIDEBAR
Sterlington Head Coach: Lee Doty (2nd Season)
Sterlington Assistant Coaches: Bobby Breen, Larry Foster, Bucky Chandler, David Janssen, Brandon Pierce, Mark Sims, R.J. Harrison, Tyler Buffington, Brian Carter
Sterlington Home Football Stadium: Panthers’ Stadium (Artificial Turf)
Sterlington Panthers’ Past Five Seasons:
2017 Overall Record: 12-1 District Record: 5-0 (District 2-3A Champions, Quarterfinal Playoff Qualifier)
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)
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): 16 – 1969, 1971, 1975, 1976, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2014 2015, 2016, 2017
State Playoff Seasons: (25 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, 2017)
Playoff Record: 40 wins – 24 losses