A strong showing in summer conditioning drills keep head coach Erik Willis optimistic about the upcoming season, but several key issues require his attention before the 2013 slate begins.
The Panthers will get a progress report Thursday in a 7-on-7 that puts them in action against upcoming district foe West Feliciana, Livonia and St. Thomas Aquinas.
“It’s going to be tough,” Willis said. “West Feliciana has everyone back on defense, and I truly believe Livonia is better than the semifinal team they had last year.”
The scrimmage should answer some questions for Brusly coaches in the last three weeks before pre-season drills go into full swing.
Willis wants Blake Manola to gain experience before the senior takes over as starting quarterback.
Baseball and other summer activities curtail Manola and some additional players from gaining more experience.
Despite the limited practice time, Willis believes Manola will make a strong showing as the play-caller this fall.
“I think he’ll be fine, but he just has to get some more practice time,” Willis said.
It’s a different story for Kwanston Askins.
The highly touted junior recently suffered a third-degree ACL separation during a summer baseball game.
The injury will sideline Askins indefinitely, Willis said.
“It’s just another scar of the summer,” he said.
The injury certainly doesn’t help the Panthers. At the same time, Willis remains upbeat about the off-season effort from his team.
“We’ve had a lot of distractions, but it’s the best summer I’ve had at Brusly,” he said. “The guys are out there working, and we still don’t have as many distractions as we’ve had in the past.
“It’s the only approach we can take,” Willis said. “If you want to be a state power, you’ve got to make it happen.”
The Panthers looked solid the first half of the summer weight program, but improvement must continue he said.
“We’ve been working hard and steady, but we have to finish strong,” he said.
Darian Cobbs remain sidelined with injuries he sustained in the spring, but teammate Carsel Alexander stepped up in a big way in the scrimmage against St. Thomas Aquinas.
“He played every play on offense and defense,” Willis said. “He put on the ‘warrior’ hat.”
The greatest strength comes form the front line, which will include Montel Williams, Adam Morales, Joseph Fishburne, Desmond Fleming, McKay Chauvin, Ken Hill and Josh Allen.
“We have some young kids who will step up,” he said.
Willis also has high hopes for Noah Landry, who started at Brusly Middle and moved to Mandeville, but has since returned to BHS.
“He’s working extremely hard,” Willis said. “He’s going to handle the ball on offense, both on the ground and in the air.”
The Panthers kick off pre-season drills July 25 at Kings Arrow Ranch in Lumberton, Miss.