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North Platte Turns to Youth in 2013

The Panthers return just four seniors.
(DEARBORN, Mo.) The North Platte Panthers lost 14 seniors from the 2012 season, so they turn to underclassmen to give them a lift this year.

"Juniors and sophomores will really have to step up," senior running back Kyle Bledsoe said.

"I think that will be key for our season," head coach Jim Brockhoff said referring to his young players.

The Panthers bring back four seniors including Bledsoe. His junior season was cut short with a torn achilles in week two against Derrick Thomas Academy. Brockhoff says his team will need him to come back strong in 2013.

"He's probably going to be our leader back there. He has to get some touches and make some plays for us, and he should have some good experience for us."

Bledsoe's leadership in the backfield will be important for North Platte's success and the development of a young quarterback. Anthony Hernandez takes the reins of the offense as he enters his sophomore year.

"Probably for a sophomore he makes decisions as well as any quarterback  we've had for that young," Brockhoff said. "He's still got some growing pains to live through, but he's doing a real good job right now. And I think he will."

With a new personnel group comes a change to the playbook. The Panthers pounded teams last year, but will go to more of a spread look to take advantage of their speed.

"Last year we were a lot of single-wing and tried to pound the ball. We do have some young athletes that are coming, and we want to be able to get those guys the ball in space."

Despite a roster full of underclassmen, the panthers are ready to prove their doubters wrong.

"They might say that we're young, we've lost a lot of seniors, but I think that we have a lot of young players that can step up and play varsity and really show how North Platte does it," Bledsoe said.

"We've just gotta keep improving, keep battling, and when adversity hits we can't let it beat us," Brockhoff said. "We gotta keep improving and keep getting better through the ups and downs of growing pains."

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