The 2019 St. Mary’s Colgan Panthers football team started the season 1-3 for the first time since 2016.
However, a 6 game winning streak would propel them deep into the playoffs.
“We had a lot of new faces in key positions early in the year and struggled through a tough early-season schedule,” said Panthers head coach Shawn Seematter.
“Watching the team respond to the adversity and overcome challenges to eventually see success was the most rewarding part of the season.”
Colgan will have 7 starters returning for the 2020 campaign with 5 of them starting two-ways.
“We will have a large incoming senior class who have been a part of a lot of success the past 3 years, so all of them will have to be leaders on the field in their various roles.”
Senior Kannon Keller, who received state wide recognition as honorable mention in the Wichita Eagle and Topeka Capital Journal as well as 1st Team All-CNC Linebacker, returns on defense and tight end on offense.
Keller recorded 80 tackles, 6 for losses, an interception returned for a touchdown, 2 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries.
Opposite of him will be 5’9″ 170 lbs. linebacker Will Glover. The junior recorded 29 tackles and 2 interceptions in 2019.
During the winning streak the Panthers only surrendered an average of 7 points per game, including 3 shut outs.
Offensively the Panthers return plenty of experience as well that should boost their 27 points per game average.
Blaise Dawson, 6’2″ 195 lbs. senior running back, rushed for 761 yards and 9 touchdowns last season.
That earned him 2nd Team All-CNC Running Back honors along with Honorable Mention from the Topeka Capital Journals All-Class 1A.
Handling the offense is senior Gianni Piccini. The 5’8″ 150 lbs. quarterback threw for 507 yards and 7 touchdowns last season.
A youthful, experienced upperclassman to follow is junior Jalen VanBecelaere.
He led the Panthers in receiving with 216 yards and 4 touchdowns.
That performance earned VanBecelaere an All-League Honorable Mention at wide receiver in his sophomore campaign.
“We are excited for him and expect a big junior season for him,” said Seematter.
Senior Taylor Torrance returns to the front offensive line. The 6’2″ 260 lbs. lineman is joined by seniors JayJoe Tenry, 5’11” 225 lbs., and Blake Normand, 6’0 190 lbs.
“I think these seniors are hungry to get back to competition since they weren’t able to compete last spring,” noted Seematter.
The district portion of the schedule for Colgan will present its balance of competition.
Only 2 of the 5 district games will be played at Hutchinson Field: an improved Neodesha and Riverton football teams.
Their 3 non-home district games this season will be Fredonia, Cherokee-Southeast, and Erie.
The Panthers will have the benefit of starting the season on Thursday, September 3rd at home against Girard.
8 days later, Galena comes to Hutchinson field with the Panthers traveling to long-time rival Frontenac before beginning district.