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District changes may help Panthers’ chase for title

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By Kristin Beck

The Carroll County Panthers’ football team has a single goal for this season: win a district championship.

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“The margin for error is very small, but we feel that it is time that we take that next step,” head coach Mike Weedman said. “This district is ours for the taking.”

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association orchestrated a significant offseason district realignment, including Carroll County’s Class 2A District 5. The remodel sent DeSales and Christian Academy of Louisville to District 4 and brought in Trimble, Gallatin and Walton-Verona from 1A. They will join Carroll and Owen in the new District 5. The realignment term runs through the 2014-15 school year.

“I definitely think (the realignment) benefits us a lot because it’s public schools playing public schools. We no longer have to compete with the private schools,” Weedman said. “… Julian Tackett, who is head of the KHSAA, said that of all the districts in the state, our district makes the most sense because of the location of our region and the public schools. I think it should be this way for a long time, and I think it’s where it needs to be.”

Weedman is confident in his team’s abilities to achieve their goal this season. “If we maintain our focus, we will be (able to win the district), and that is something that I’m going to remind myself daily and the team will be reminded daily of our goal,” he said. “I don’t want the players to focus on statistics. The only statistic I want the players focusing on this year is wins. I think if we focus on that, the statistics will take care of themselves.”

The Panthers lost 13 seniors to graduation, many on the defensive side of the ball. However, Weedman said he has been pleasantly surprised at “how the younger guys and the guys that have not played in the starting roles have stepped in and embraced the defense this year.” He pointed out that a number of sophomores played last season, experience he said which has paid more dividends than learning technique or working in the weight room.

“We want to have more depth. That way if somebody goes down, the next man up,” Weedman said. “That’s kind of been our motto this year, ‘the next man up.’”

The Panthers finished the 2010 campaign with a 7-4 record and a loss in the Class 2A playoffs to Holy Cross (Covington). Weedman said his team also wants to bring home a playoff win this season, which would be their first since 2003.

In addition to their district foes, Carroll County will take on Lewis County, Ludlow, Kentucky Country Day, Bellevue and Dayton. They open the season Friday night at Pendleton County.

Weedman said he wants this season to be all about the team and achieving their goals as a unit. “In the past, I would praise individuals for their effort, but this year, I definitely want to take an ‘entire team’ approach throughout the entire year. I think if we focus on the team goals, the individual goals will fall into place,” he said. “These players have worked hard enough to earn the right to win the district championship. Now we just have to go follow through.”