Panthers going through spring football practice

Graham Thomas/Herald-Leader
Siloam Springs assistant coach Michael Smith goes over instructions with wide receivers during spring football practice Monday at Panther Stadium.
Graham Thomas/Herald-Leader Siloam Springs assistant coach Michael Smith goes over instructions with wide receivers during spring football practice Monday at Panther Stadium.

The Siloam Springs football returned to the practice fields last week for the start of spring football practice.

Arkansas high school football teams are allotted 10 days of practice in pads, and the Panthers had their first one Tuesday, May 2.

Siloam Springs worked out again in pads on Monday afternoon.

The Panthers are coming off an 0-10 football season in 2022, and have some holes to fill on both sides of the ball, including the quarterback position after 2022 starter Jackson Still (491 rushing yards, 842 passing yards) transferred to Colcord.

"We have a lot of kids out (to play football) so we're trying to figure out who can do what and where we can play them," said head coach Brandon Craig, who's entering his sixth season. "We're obviously looking to fill a few positions. You know we lost our quarterback. He moved, so we're looking to find a new quarterback."

Craig said the Panthers are looking at two candidates to play quarterback in junior Dane Marlatt and sophomore Jonathan Hyde. Marlatt saw some action at quarterback last year when Still was injured. Hyde was the quarterback for the freshman team.

"They're both good kids and are working really hard," Craig said. "We haven't had them because of baseball. Now that baseball is over we'll get them into the swing of things and get a chance to evaluate them."

The Panthers return All 6A-West Conference running back Jed Derwin (504 rushing yards) along with skill position players All-Conference Cameron Stafford (18 catches, 239 yards), Quinten Motsinger (12-187) and Noah Shipp (11-97).

Offensive lineman Brock Gold (All-Conference) and Noah Race return up front.

"Those guys have all played varsity football, so we're excited to have them back on offense," Craig said.

"On offense obviously we have a lot of different components we're trying to install so just trying to make sure we're all on the same page going into the summer."

Defensively, Siloam Springs returns All-Conference defensive tackle Justin Burton along with Christian Mendez and Jason Courtney along the line.

George Leroy returns at linebacker.

"He's obviously got another gear," Craig said of Leroy.

The Panthers lack experience at linebacker, Craig said, "but we've got some really good kids there. Some kids we feel like are going to be really good players."

Gio Flores, Mikey McKinley and Eli Hargett all return in the secondary after seeing playing time last year as sophomores.

"Those guys all got reps last year," Craig said. "Excited to have them back for a second year.

"We feel like we have a lot of kids coming back on that side of the ball that were young and it should pay off for us and they should be better."

Craig said the Panthers will emphasize tackling in space in spring ball.

"That's an area where we need to improve in," he said. "It's an area we weren't great in last year. We're spending a lot of time on tackling on defense and tackling in space specifically."

The Panthers have been working on their offseason program since November after the season ended.

Craig said several have made big gains in the weight room.

"We got an early start last year because we didn't make the playoffs," he said. "We started in November, committed whole heartedly to the weight room. Our kids numbers have gone up dramatically. We've seen great increase in strength and speed and size and we're excited about that.

"Just when you play that many young kids that we played last year that haven't had that offseason experience it really shows up. Now they're going through that process and going to be out there and it should show up and make a big difference."

The Panthers' padded practices are spaced out through May 24. They'll go in full pads again on Thursday.

Craig noted everything is weather related.

"We'll try to squeeze in as many as you can," he said. "Then we start our summer calendar, which is pretty lengthy."

  photo  Graham Thomas/Herald-Leader Siloam Springs rising senior running back Jed Derwin takes the handoff from junior quarterback Dane Marlatt during spring football practice on Monday afternoon at Panther Stadium.