With enrollment right around a 100 students, fielding an 11-man football team has become no easy task in Maxwell; however, the Panthers are a determined lot, focused not only on the present season, but also on the long-term goal of rebuilding the program.
As a result, the focus for the Panthers has changed somewhat in 2021 for Coach Lane Davis as the program struggles with sustaining consistent numbers.
” Our goal is to be successful, not necessarily in terms of wins or losses, but in getting better and being good human beings,” said the Panthers second year head coach.
Yet, while Maxwell may lack depth, with fewer than 20 total players on the squad, they are a capable group with a positive attitude, as captain Shane Danley pointed out.
” We have a lot of talent, a lot to choose from, and its a group that works hard,” said the senior when asked about the teams best features.
Strong armed signal caller Dillon Dry, a junior who has worked on improving his footwork and speed in the off season, will be starting at quarterback this year and is ready to facilitate offensive coordinator Robert Wilsons game plan.
Maxwells most experienced player is senior running back Ignacio Velasquez, who carried 39 times for 231 yards and scored 13 touchdowns in 2019, and this year will team with junior Ruben Velazquez, who has hit the weight room hard this summer and provides more of a power style when carrying the ball.
Velazquez is another of the teams captains and exemplifies the close-knit nature of the Panther squad, sharing that, ” We grew up together and are like a big family. I really like how we work to bring in the new group.
Maxwell does have a number of young players that will need to rise to the occasion, particularly at wide out, where junior Berto Lara along with a pair of sophomores in Rudy Gonzalez and Angel Iniguez will compete for time.
Danley will be a mainstay on the offensive line and be joined by fellow seniors Will Kuska and Steven Avery along with junior Cale Kuska and sophomore Isaac Iniguez.
An intriguing addition to the line is freshman Diego Ambriz, who despite making his rookie debut is showing a great deal of promise in practice.
On defense the Panthers will look to a core of stalwarts that includes Velasquez, Velazquez, Lara, and Gonzalez.
Again Velasquez, in reprising his linebacker role, provides the most experience having averaged 5.8 tackles per game in 2019, and this season will line up along side Danley and Dry.
Davis also is optimistic about the secondary, which will feature Lara and Gonzalez.
Over the past three years, Maxwell has complied a 12-23 record and it doesnt get easier this time around as they face the likes of perennial power Fall River in addition to Modoc, Los Molinos, Etna, Portola, Quincy, and Weed in a very tough Cascade Valley League.
With such a small number of players, staying healthy will be imperative to the Panthers remaining competitive throughout the season, but what they are not short on is leadership, and that in itself can help pave the way to meeting their long-term goals. –