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Panther football back under the lights Friday vs. Pendleton

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By Kristin Beck

Heading into the scrimmage against Fort Knox High School Friday, Aug. 10, football head coach Mike Weedman did not know what kind of team he would be putting out on to the field. Normally, scrimmages are not treated like real games; they are used to evaluate individuals. However, this season, Weedman said he used it to evaluate his team.

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Overall, there were some highlights, but also the expected low points that need to be addressed. “I think we’re better in some areas than I expected, but I still think there are a lot of areas we need to improve in,” he said.

Weedman said what this year’s team lost in experience, they make up for with enthusiasm. “Not that they are a big ‘rah rah’ bunch, but just excited about the opportunity to prove that they can play.”

One person he was really impressed with during the scrimmage was senior running back Tyshaun Embs, who looked quick on his feet and ran like an experienced player, he said. “Having to play behind Carson (Butcher) the last two years, he never had the opportunity to carry the load,” Weedman said. “I think he’s embraced the fact that this is his time, this is his team, and I love what he brings every day to our team.”

Embs rushed for 614 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games last season and will be the featured runner in a backfield that also includes juniors Blake Newby and Michael Welch. 

In addition to running back, the Panthers also expect to be strong on the offensive and defensive line, with lineman an average of about 250 lbs. “Carroll County is not known for its size,” Weedman said. “In the 13 years I’ve been here, this is by far the biggest line we’ve had, period.”

Included on the line are brothers Joe and Josh Gibbs, who will start side-by-side this season. Joe, a senior, plays guard and defensive tackle, while Josh, a junior, plays tackle and defensive tackle. The brothers, who are originally from Mississippi, have football in their blood. Three generations of Gibbs before them have played college football, including their grandfather, who played at Alabama.

“I think it’s very special to watch two brothers with so much football tradition in their family be able to play beside one another this season,” Weedman said. “… They are definitely a team within a team.”

Taking snaps from behind center will be junior quarterback John Michael Adams, who has been the JV quarterback the past two seasons.

“John Michael has surprised the coaching staff in so many positive ways throughout the summer,” Weedman said. “He has been 100 percent dedicated to leading this team to be the best of his ability. He’s done so many things right, and I’m just impressed with all the good things he’s done. What I love about him is he never gets too high, never gets too low. He’s always even keeled.”

The head coach said the 6-foot, 200-pound quarterback has the ability to make things happen with his feet and is very athletic.

Last year’s Panthers finished the season 8-3, with regular season losses to Walton-Verona and Owen County and a first-round playoff loss to Holy Cross (Covington). While it is safe to assume Carroll would like to see just as many, if not more, wins this season and a playoff victory, Weedman said the team has not laid out specific goals.

“The goal that we set was to do things right, and if we do that, then we will be successful,” he said.

“This team is unlike any other I have ever coached because they are a hard bunch to read. But they are a great group of young men that I enjoy spending time with.”

The Panthers will open the season this Friday at home against Pendleton County. It’s a “blackout,” and the football boosters are encouraging fans to show their Panther pride by wearing black to the game.

The coaches and players are excited to get the season underway.

“Everybody is ready,” Weedman said. “The boys are tired of hitting each other. We’re ready to get in our in-season routine. I’m looking forward to watching us play as a team because they are a team-oriented bunch … and they are very fun to watch.”