Coach: Jonathon Castator, first season
2018 Record: 3-8, 1-6 in Southern Carolinas
Returning Starters: Offense, 7; Defense, 6
Inside the Huddle
The Panthers haven’t won more than three games since 2015 and haven’t had a winning season in six years, yet there is optimism around the program starting with “Coach Cas,” a former Porter Ridge assistant.
Piedmont will again rely on their two-headed backfield monster of Connor Purser and Troy Hagin, who return after running for 1,900 yards and 13 touchdowns between them.
But after running the ball on 83% of their offensive snaps last year, the team is looking to open it up and throw some more with quarterback Henry Saunders.
Part of the redesigned offense will feature junior Brooks Gsell, who will be asked to a lot this season. The Panthers are also very happy with their collection of receivers, including Evan Sawyer and Caleb Baucom.
A big change will also be at tight end, where defensive standout Ty Nicholas and fellow tight end Nic Fincher will look to get more involved.
The offensive line, led by Colby Williams, returns nearly intact from last season and will be very good.
Gsell leads the secondary, which features Caleb Baucom and Clint Danielson if he doesn’t win the quarterback job. Also look out for freshman Layton Duke, who will start at corner from Day 1 and is an exceptional talent.
Nicholas, who plays both sides of the ball, is a disruptor at defensive end. Eli Vinn and Williams round out the defensive front. Harrison Davis was second on the team in tackles and leads a solid linebacking core.
The Panthers should be more competitive, but significant change in the Southern Carolinas standings will not be made overnight, although it looks like they’re heading in that direction.
QB: Henry Saunders; RB: Connor Purser/Troy Hagin; WR: Brooks Gsell; WR: Evan Sawyer/Quame McClendon; WR: Caleb Baucom/Austin Holton; TE: Ty Nicholas/Nic Fincher; OL: Colby Williams; OL: Matt Austin; OL: Patrick Dennehy; OL: Will McNeil; and OL: Will Hart/Luke James.
DE: Eli Vinn/Quame McLendon; DE: Aldo Rodriguez; DT: Colby Williams; DT: Ty Nicholas; LB: John Britt/Troy Hagin; LB: Harrison Davis; LB: Billy Ferraro/Connor Purser; CB: Caleb Baucom; CB: Layton Duke; S: Clint Danielson; and S: Brooks Gsell.
K: Ethan Helms; P: Ethan Helms; P Ret: Brooks Gsell; and K Ret: Brooks Gsell.
Nathan Adair (QB)