Coach Chris Payne’s Panama Panthers have been handily picking their way through their opponents all season. Coming off of a 39-6 win over Cassadaga Valley last week, the 3-1 (in league play) Panthers headed into their next big game against Franklinville which stood at 1-3 coming into Friday night’s game on October 10. “A win over Franklinville takes us into the playoffs,” Payne told fans.
The Panama Panthers run a tough defense, allowing only 64 points against so far—exactly half of the 128 their offense has racked up. “We vary our defenses,” Payne explained. “I like to run a split-6 defense, but sometimes we go to a 4/4 and mostly rely on zone coverage. But what works best is a “Defense Mindset” where the boys fly to the football, wherever it is.”
Coach Payne credits his defensive coach, Ed Nolan, with much of their defensive success. “I know Ed knows football,” Payne said with a smile, “because he was my first quarterback, and a good one at that, my first year as a coach here in Panama.”
“Our fans are great here in Panama, too” Payne says with pride. “Our boys know the community, their friends and their families support them.” Coach Payne says, however, that as important as winning and losing are, this year’s team has formed a strong camaraderie and work ethic that goes beyond the gridiron. “I’m proud of the way they’ve grown together as a team and as young men,” Payne said.
“This team has a real passion to play, and that makes our practices even more intense than usual,” Payne pointed out. “That means our practices can be shorter, with less chance for sprains and strains before game day.” The Panthers started the 2013 season with a roster of 43, but is temporarily in the 30s, but there’s depth on the bench and quick recovery from minor incidents.
The squad this year has eight seniors but 14 juniors are getting ready to take their place next year in force; two of this year’s starters on the offense line are underclassmen too.
Coach Chris Payne is a veteran teacher the Panama school system, teaching physical education and serving as the Athletic Director. He is committed to every boy discovering his worth weather on the football field or in a classroom.