Can Paint Branch beat its post-season curse?


Head Coach: Mike Nesmith

Last Year’s record: 9-2

Returning offensive starters: 3

Returning defensive starters: 6

Likely toughest opponent: Quince Orchard

Offensive strengths: versatility

Offensive weaknesses: inexperience

Defensive strengths: linebacker/secondary

Defensive weaknesses: inexperience

Offensive outlook: Gaston Cooper has the potential to emerge as one of the county’s top QBs. RBs Manyo Mkiri and Erwin Assie should bolster the backfield running behind Hampton commit Jonathan Quigley. The wide receiving corps features Javonn Curry and Kevin Bedinko.

Defensive outlook: FS Thomas Lucas has verbally committed to UConn and should be a stalwart in the defensive secondary. The d-line features Dmitri Clemons and LB Justin Hackley is also among the top returning players.

Special teams: Nesmith was uncertain about the kicking game but said Mkiri will handle the kick return duties. “He’s got very good speed,” said Nesmith.

Coach’s comments: “Every year our expectation and goal is to win a state championship. Every year that I’m here our goal is to win a state championship with the kids that we have.”

Scouting report: There’s no question the Panthers have talent on both sides of the ball but the team’s experience or lack thereof may play a role in how far this team advances.

Break away potential: The schedule includes perennial powerhouses Quince Orchard and Sherwood but the Panthers should be able to win at least eight games this season. Expect another postseason berth for this team. In fact, you can usually expect a postseason berth for this club. But it also seems to choke once it gets there. Can it go farther?

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