LEWISBURG — Tri-County North reached the playoffs last year for the third time in as many seasons and the team is hoping to continue that momentum into this season.
The Panthers have the right formula in place for that to happen. The team returns 11 starters from last season and has a roster of 15 seniors. That formula does come with a few wrinkles, though.
North graduated a four-year starter at quarterback in Austin Hutchins, who set many of the school’s passing records.
Taking his place will be Colton Booth. Booth will employ more of a running-based attack.
“He can throw it when needed but his strength is the run,” said head coach Bill Derringer. “Lane Gunder is our junior QB and is a little more pass-orientated.”
The Panthers also bring back all of their impact running backs from last season, including Dustin Green, Kody Cordes, Garrett Woodyard and Blake Lawson.
The offensive line, which is the cornerstone of any good offense, is also bring back four starters: Austin Johnson, Reilly Lipinski, Stephen Miller, and Mitchell Bussard.
Kyle Sykes, Josh McIntosh, Jordan Overcash, Trey Summers, Brandon Via and Tanner Booth make up the rest of the lineup for the offensive line rotation. They are hoping to see significant playing time as well this season.
North brings back three starters from last year at wide receiver as well. Austin Elmore, Logan Elmore, and Gunner Sloan will all hope to become some of Booth’s and Gunder’s favorite people this season.
On the defensive end, the squad returns several key players from last years rotation, including three defensive backs (Austin Johnson, Austin Elmore and Logan Elmore), five linebackers (Garrett Woodyard, Colton Booth, Jordan Overcash, Stephen Miller and Kody Cordes), and six linemen (Blake Lawson, Trey Summers, Lane Gunder, Reilly Lipinski, Mitchell Bussard and Josh McIntosh.)
While all of these returners may not have started last season, they were all a big part of North’s defensive unit.
They also have added newcomer Colton Overholtz who has been “very big in replacing the loss of Austin Hutchins at corner,” added Derringer.
“This year’s seniors have been to the playoffs each of the past three seasons. If they could achieve this goal again they would have gone every year that they were in high school,” said Derringer
North has never won a playoff game in six appearances, but with a senior-laden squad, the team hopes to make this a year for the history books.
The Panthers start off the season in front of their home crowd on Friday, when the take on Brookvill at 7:30.