Wanted: Experience Panthers working to reload

BY BRANDON SPECK
Sports Editor
NEW HOPE – Amory’s loss of skill players is obvious, so obvious that you’ll need a roster to tell who’s running, catching, receiving and passing when practice begins later this year.
Amory coach Pat Byrd will spend fall practice making sure those new faces, and familiar faces, know what to do when before the season kicks off in the Panthers’ new Class 4A schedule.
Amory was bumped up to 4A with next season’s newly aligned six class system.
“Just way too many mistakes,” said Byrd after the Panthers’ 21-7 loss against Starkville in New Hope’s spring jamboree. “You expect some mistakes in the spring, but mental mistakes, misalignments, not being in the right formation…”
The Panthers, who finished last season at 6-6, also lost 7-0 to Pontotoc in the two-quarter games.
Starkville coach Bill Lee was pleased with what Byrd was displeased about. His Yellowjackets found the end zone three times on the deep ball, once to Chuck Tillery on a 58-yard strike, one of his two scores from Jacquez Johnson.
“We’re finally starting to catch the deep ball and make some people miss and make some big plays” said Lee, whose team finished 3-8 last season. “Hopefully we can be exciting to watch. Defensively we’ve got to crank it up a little bit more.”
Amory, which ran Chandler Riggs and Forest Williams in at quarterback, scored when William Ezell ran it in to cut Starkville’s lead to 14-7.
“Defensively we played pretty good the first, second and third quarter,” Byrd said. “We gave up the big play on third down. “We’ve just got a lot of kids inexperienced in key spots that we’ve got to get some experience in a hurry.”

Brandon Speck