It isn’t normal for Snider to rebuild. Long has the program just been able to reload.
That is until 2020. At 5-5, the Panthers were saddled with their worst record in over 25 years and it is fair to say that it shocked most around the area.
That is what a rebuild looked like at Snider. And it was odd.
What shouldn’t come as surprise is that the expectations for Snider in 2021 are once again through the roof. After fighting through what really seemed like a fluke of a season, the Panthers come back experienced and less willing to get exposed in 2021. Snider returns 10 offensive and six defensive starters as it begins the quest for SAC and postseason titles.
That journey starts with Outside the Huddle naming the Panthers our No. 1 team in the preseasons Power Poll.
Luke Haupert was handed the reins at quarterback a few weeks later than expected in 2020. It was part of a feeling-out process and a chance to allow last season’s seniors to carry the load. But when Haupert became the man under center, it was clear he deserved it and his talent was able to show through, even in a middling season. Haupert completed 71 of 131 passes for 757 yards, even as Snider gravitated more towards the run game. He returns for his junior season now as a veteran with a more seasoned receiving group. That crew will be headed by Kamari Juarez, who caught 18 passes for 181 yards in 2020, and senior A’dorean Rogers, both of whom started last season. Juniors Tyler Dent and Jordan Lee will add depth as the Panthers look to continue to be multi-faceted. Carter Wortman and 6-foot-4 Lincoln Firks will aid from the tight end position.
Tyrese Brown returns after a successful breakout 2020 campaign where he ran for 1,004 yards and 13 touchdowns. As a senior, Brown isn’t going to catch anyone off guard, but his quickness and cuts will still make him just as hard to wrap up. Juniors Langston Leavell and Kendrell Billingsley also return with a quite a bit of experience in the backfield.
It doesn’t hurt that all of that talent gets to operate behind an offensive line headed up by Division I prospect DJ Moore. A lack of tangible statistics can often leave offensive linemen underappreciated, but Moore continues a really significant trend of high-level o-line guys in the SAC. He is a flat-out monster when it comes to creating holes and chaos. Moore has spent three years starting on this Snider line and will be joined by fellow returners Caleb Hurt at center and and guards Aiden Pelz and Brandon Stuckey to provide some great experience. The Panthers will also see senior Jordan Chevalier, juniors Noah Drew and Paul Hager and sophomore Ethan Dodson chip in up front.
Snider’s secondary allowed around double the amount of passing yards per game last season as they did rushing yards. It is. after all, a pass-heavy league lately. It leads the Panthers having a decent balance of old and new looks at defensive back as they return Quincy Myatt and talented sophomore Austin Ganaway, but will supplement them in the secondary with senior Santiago Ortiz and juniors Jason Pierre-Louis and Donte Sanders. The heavy group of linebackers will be under the watchful lead of two-year starters Domanick Moon and Isaiah Maxwell.
Both Moon and Maxwell have a ton of experience already, seeing some great highs and lows of Snider football. Juniors Zyon Greene, Zayvion Williams, KJ Eldridge and Nick Talamantes, as well as sophomore Lukas Rohrbacher could lead to the Panthers being the deepest they’ve been on the defensive side of the football in a few years. This linebacker group with their experience, toughness and pedigree could be a real difference maker.
Markell Keal and Jacob Stetka return along the defensive line as seniors, joined by Caiden Hurse, Darnell Morgan and Kent Burkhead.
The mix of experience and youth also hits the kicking game, but its not a bad thing to have guys to rely on for multiple seasons as Talamantes, a junior, will handle kicking duties while sophomore Brian Peterson is slated to punt for the Panthers.
“We are going to be successful if our senior class cares more about the team than they do themselves, they embrace the attitude of hard work and value it as the key to our success and they become servant leaders in our program,” Snider coach Kurt Tippmann said.
Expectation. It doesn’t waver at Snider. The Panthers went 5-5 last year and could have gone 1-9, but it wouldn’t have changed the expectations for this year or the program as a whole. Snider strives to be the best and while sometimes it has to settle for a place or more behind that, it does not ever look the part of a team that will be anything other than the best.
Snider has put in the work, both on the field and at camps and retreats. This is a roster that does not turn on each other when things go bad, but instead pick each other up and stick together.
Snider is very good and anyone who looks back on 2020 to lay out expectations for this season’s team is missing the point entirely. A run to a SAC title in 2021 may be as hard as its been in a long time with so many teams in the conversation, but this group can beat you in every area when they are at the top of their game.
WHY NOT HIGHER?
Because 1 is the best.
August 20 at North Side
After losing the first game of the season last year, the Panthers have to be super hungry to not let history repeat itself. That means that the first snap, the first quarter, the first everything of 2021 is crucial.
This Panthers team, which may not look too different from the one that ended last season, is a lot different than the one that started the season with North Side a year ago. Impact games will have the chance to happen all season with a very talented SAC still making the Panthers the hunted, but this game matters most right now.
Markell Keal, senior, defensive line
Keal can hit like a ton of bricks and that will motivate some opposing players to move a lot faster to get out of his line of fire. He is a great leader for this line in physicality and work alone, so it will be a great year to watch his continued development and how Keal develops those around him.