A promising start to the regular season now has questions for Plano East football.
The Panthers (0-1, 3-1) lost their opening game of District 6-6A in a game that could not have gotten worse. Running back Daniel Fayombo went out with an injury, while Plano East proceeded to put the ball on the ground four times and throw an interception in the 33-22 defeat.
Given the circumstances behind the loss, the Panthers can still be optimistic about their upcoming clash against Hebron (0-1, 2-2). The Hawks narrowly lost to Marcus last Friday and showed that this district will have razor-thin margins throughout the season. Here are the three keys to Plano East defeating Hebron on homecoming Friday night.
1. Next man up mentality
Losing a player of Fayombo’s caliber is a brutal loss for any team, but Plano East’s depth and experience at running back will show this Friday. The Panthers have plenty of talented options at their disposal, and the key is the next man has to step up and deliver a solid performance.
The two backup running backs, Jordan Yearby and Austin Wesley have combined for just 25 carries this season. Wesley has been with the Plano East program for several years now and has an opportunity ahead of himself to show out in his senior season.
As another candidate, keep an eye out for Chiagozie Oliver in the backfield for Plano East. The senior linebacker has just one carry this season, but he’s one of the best athletes on the Panthers’ roster and could step in and be effective at almost any position on the field.
2. Account for weapons on offense
One of the toughest things about playing Hebron is just accounting for all of the options they have on the offensive side of the ball. The Hawks spread the ball around well, with three different receivers with 12 or more receptions and two quarterbacks who both complete well over 60 percent of their passes and don’t turn the ball over. Combine that passing attack with running back Bryson Spriggs, who averages over four yards per carry and it gets even more complicated.
Taking on Hebron is a battle of discipline and also tests the talent of any football team. The Panthers will have to identify where the Hawks are looking to attack the field and neutralize it.
Plano East’s defense will be tested in week six, with the secondary key to limit the explosive plays of three different receivers.