A simple question faces the 2012 Panthers: How do you top your own resume year after year?
"That's a good question," head coach Brian Messer said. This group, when they were in junior high, the expectations weren't so high. Based on the success they've had and how much they've played in the last two years, I think the expectations are to try to be one of the top teams in 8-Man again. I think the guys enjoy that tradition."You don't want to let it die," lineback James Walker said. "You just have to keep on trying. We're going to try to give it everything we have."
Coach Messer and company reached their fourth straight state championship game last year, but a 50-20 loss to Worth County meant, for the first time since 2007, the Panthers would not hoist the trophy.
The program only lost two seniors from that squad. But it's a little different when those two are All-State quarterback Lucas Schawang and running back Zach Kahle.
"I don't really feel like we'll replace the, but we have an experienced team," Messer said. "We need a few of those to step forward and take that leadership role."
"We still have a lot of people that know what they're supposed to do," Walker said. "Some of the people last year, they'll just have to get more involved this year."
Our whole team from, one to eigh,t is pretty solid this year," tight end Hayston Wilson said. "I feel like we're really meshing well and a lot of the guys get along well."
Now, the team is in the hands of players like junior quarterback Luke Sanders.
There are big shoes to fill, but he, and others, are more than ready for the challenge.
"He's been doing great. We couldn't ask for more from him, he's a very accurate passer."
Can Mound City make it five berths in a row? With growing 8-Man programs to contend with, Messer says it's all about taking it one step at a time.
"If we can put ourselves first in the top eight and then we get to the top four, then we might have a change to do something great."