Down the Hall: Pelham Panthers reloaded for 2008

By SCOTTIE BLAIR/Guest Columnist

The Pelham Panthers’ football team continues spring preparations for the 2008 season this Friday night at Ned Bearden Stadium by taking on Carroll High from Ozark. The Panthers look to be loaded with talent on both sides of the ball next year.

The Panthers will need it because of the region swap that puts Pelham back in the region with the football powerhouses like Spain Park and Mountain Brook.

If the Panthers can stay healthy on offense, they should have no problem putting up some gaudy numbers in the fall.

Starting backs Ryan Williams, Andrew Fields and Trent Daniels combined to miss more than a dozen games last year.

However, the Panthers found a valuable weapon by discovering sophomore quarterback Tripp Martin.

Martin lit up the stat sheet before suffering a season-ending concussion against Tuscaloosa County.

The only consistent offensive threat all year was junior receiver Shawn Lynch.

Lynch will be looking to build on an already impressive resume during his senior campaign and will most likely receive a Division-I scholarship somewhere.

Lynch will certainly be the focus of “The System” philosophy created by Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin and run by Pelham offensive coordinator Jep Irwin.

Irwin, like Franklin, coached in Kentucky using, “The System,” and has had great success.

Irwin’s coaching situation is also similar to Franklin’s in that they will both have to decide on which quarterback to send into battle for their respective teams.

Whether it’s Martin or senior Will Hyden that wins the staring job, the offense has far fewer questions to answer than the defense.

The defense will be led by highly recruited safety Alvin Hines.

He will be entering his senior season with offers from multiple SEC schools, including Auburn and Kentucky.

Defensive end Dexter Paschel has a skill set similar to former Auburn end Quentin Groves, and Nigel Terrel has the speed to chase down any back. The biggest improvement to the 2008 defense might be the help of Williams performing double duty.

As always, the expectations for Pelham in 2008 are high and it begins Friday night at 6:30 p.m. for the Panthers on Bobby Hayes Field at Ned Bearden Stadium.

Scottie Blair is a business education teacher and assistant football coach at Pelham High School