The Siloam Springs football Panthers returned from team camp at Pittsburg State (Kan.) on Monday night with five practices under its belt and lots of optimism after competing well in the two-day event.
"We're really happy with what happened," said first-year coach Brandon Craig. "We feel like our kids got off the bus (Sunday), and had their first practice and it was a little rough for them. But I feel like they responded, kind of got the gist of what was going on at each camp. They adapted and kind of by the time we got around to the last day, the last practice, I feel like we had made some major improvements. From a standpoint of where we need to go as a program, we just need to keep improving every day. That's our mission."
Siloam Springs took 47 kids of its near 70-man roster to the camp, but Craig said the majority of players that are being counted on were in attendance.
"We had a couple of kids we wish could have gone that couldn't go because of work, family reunion, or various things," he said. "We had one kid in Italy, another kid in California, another kid in Reno. We had kids that had things to do with their family that were already planned prior to Pitt State. We wish everybody could have gone. We'd like to take all 70 kids up there. That's part of the deal. You get to the point where you get kids and take them and try to make them better."
The Panthers arrived on Sunday morning and had two practices Sunday afternoon and Sunday evening.
On Monday, they practiced once in the morning, once in the afternoon and again in the evening before returning home.
"It's an intense load of work in a short amount of time," Craig said. "That's the reason we go to something like that is to get as many reps as we can. Also it's a mental challenge for your kids to try to understand that it's tough. Football's a tough sport. We needed to answer the call with toughness and we did."
The camp was set up with offenses versus defenses on different ends of the facility. A defense might see three different offenses during a stretch, and then the offense would get to work against three different defenses.
"You'd get nine plays and rotate off," he said.
Offensively, Craig said senior quarterback Landon Ellis had a good camp, among other key players on offense.
"I thought our quarterback had a good camp," Craig said. "It was good for him. He got a chance to see a lot of different coverages, a lot of different defenses. I think that helped him as far as his read progression and what he needs to be looking at.
"Primo (Agbehi) had an outstanding camp offensively (at wide receiver). He made some big catches, big plays for us. I thought the offensive line, it really was a challenge for them because you see so many defenses in a short amount of time. I thought they did a really good job of handling that and adapting and getting through camp. Then KT (senior running back Kaiden Thrailkill) had a great camp as well. He had a bunch of big runs. He had several breakaways."
Running back Gustavo Fuentes also had some strong runs, Craig said.
Defensively, Craig said the Panthers played very physical.
"I thought our D-line and our linebackers were very physical," he said. "I thought they did a great job. It was a challenge for the secondary because you're seeing a lot of different motions, a lot of different offensive formations, different things you haven't seen during spring ball. It's a big challenge for our secondary. Like we told them we just want you to go out and adjust the best you can and play football."
Defensive lineman Mariano Dominguez had a really good camp, Craig said.
"I thought he did some great things defensive line-wise," Craig said. "(Defensive lineman Colby) Fesler, has continued to improve. He's shown tremendous improvement throughout spring and at camp. He really did a nice job.
"Both linebackers really played physical. (Chase) Chandler and (Matthew) Avery did a good job. I think that we have a good thing moving in the right direction. I think we're moving in the right direction. We've just got to keep pushing and keep getting better."
There was no special team work at the camp.
The Panthers are scheduled to participate in a pair of 7-on-7 nights this week -- Tuesday at Claremore, Okla., and Thursday at Bentonville West.
They'll do the same thing next week in their last action before the Arkansas Activities Association's dead period, which runs June 24-July 8.
When the Panthers return from the dead period they'll have a team camp at Bentonville West on July 10 followed by a 7-on-7 event in Branson, Mo.Sports on 06/10/2018
Print Headline: Panthers play well at Pitt State