The Plano East Panthers return several pass-catching options, helping the new offense.
Head coach Tony Benedetto is excited about his returning group, led by senior wideout Rushil Patel. The returning starter led the team in receiving last season, finishing the year with 440 yards receiving and two touchdowns. With interest from Lamar University and Stetson University, coach Benedetto said the sky is the limit for his senior season.
“It’s so rare to see a three-year pass catcher at this big of a school at the 6A level,” Benedetto said. “He’s so good out of his breaks, he’s great catching the ball and his hands are awesome. He’s gotten collegiate interest at the next level from some good-size schools and he’s a great player.”
Leading the team with 34 catches in eight games last season, coach Benedetto said the key for Patel will be to approach each down the same to prepare for the next level. The new coaching staff has preached blocking on the outside from their receivers, something he feels everyone can always improve upon.
“He needs to be in the mindset to be the man,” Benedetto said. “If we’re stuck in a third-and-long approach we want to see Rushil get open and make a play for us. We also want to see him have an every-down mindset to bring the same intensity every play even if the ball isn’t coming his way.”
For coach Benedetto, he said the key for the offense will be getting Patel in a rhythm early in games to help open space for the rest of the team.
“Whether it’s a short pass or screen it helps the offense move the ball and helps get him going,” Benedetto said. “It’s not something you have to force either it’s easy to find ways to get him the ball and pick up four or five yards a play.”
Along with Patel, Brian Dyer returns as the starting tight end for Plano East. Splitting time with Rowdy Keith last season at the position, Dyer led the team with three touchdown receptions last year. With his 6-foot-5 frame, he will be a key figure in the offense in 2022.
“We’re going to move Brian around,” Benedetto said. “He’ll be in the slot, in the backfield and with his hand down at the tight end spot. He’s another player with a lot of collegiate interest and we’re going to use his size effectively.”
Dyer is continually improving into this offseason. With interest from Division I programs like Arkansas State, the team is impressed with how fluid he moves on the field.
“A lot of college coaches have been impressed with how well he moves as a big player,” Benedetto said. “It’s not easy to grow into a body that size and he’s coordinated himself well and is getting better.”
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By Kyle Grondin • [email protected]