NTMWD Plant Smart 2024

Seniors Warner, Palma lead Panthers at receiver

by | Jun 26, 2023 | Sports

Plano East wide receiver Rushil Patel had a record-setting season for the Panthers offense.

The Sam Houston football signee finished his senior season with a school record 1,148 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in 2022. Unfortunately for Plano East, he graduates and leaves a big hole to fill in the depth chart.

While Patel put up big numbers and was a terrific player throughout his career for Plano East, head coach Tony Benedetto believes that the offensive scheme can offer more diversity than they showed last year.

“I think we got to a point last year where we probably didn’t run the offense from a scheme perspective and just wanted to get Rushil the ball,” Benedetto said. “In turn, that didn’t allow [quarterback] Drew [Devillier] to make the reads we needed, and he was mainly focused on getting him the ball. It’s great when you have a great quarterback and great receiver, but now we can take advantage of what the defense gives us.”

The Panther’s top returning receiver had just 200 receiving yards last season, but coach Benedetto is still optimistic about the group’s abilities and veteran leadership with several returning options.

“We have a lot of options at receiver and we have smart kids in the group,” Benedetto said. “We feel like they’re going to be where they’re supposed to be and find open spaces in zone defenses. It’ll be tough to cover us in the passing game if we can get the best out of those kids.”

Leading the pack of receivers into the new year are Caden Warner, Joshua Palma, Ezra O’Neal III and Jaylon Hatcher, all of which had an impact on the offense in 2022.

Warner is the leading returning receiver from last season, finishing the year with 22 receptions. He can play on the outside and in the slot, giving the Panthers the level of versatility that they need in their passing game.

“We call him Mr. Reliable as a three-year starter for us,” Benedetto said. “He’s experienced and he’s just a rock-steady target for us. He’s going to be Drew’s favorite target because we can trust he’s going to be where he’s supposed to be.”

With Warner moving around the field, it opens up space for Palma, who had 17 receptions last season and has impressed early on in the summer during 7-on-7 scrimmages with several big plays. With that senior tandem, Plano East hopes they can have a consistent approach to their offense.

“When you lose a guy like Rushil, the first instinct is ‘what are we going to do next,’” Benedetto said. “Well we may not end up with a 1,200-yard receiver, but we could have a few different guys with 200-300 yards and still be really good. It might end up better in the long run as we can keep defenses guessing.”

Along with the two experienced players, Hatcher and O’Neal III are battling for reps on the outside, as the team is hopeful the two track and field standouts can provide explosiveness to the Plano East passing game. Hatcher and O’Neal III competed at the state championship for the Panthers relay team, and have shown flashes of their abilities on the football field.

Hatcher also rushed for 453 yards and three touchdowns last season but will get chances at both running back and receiver in 2023.

O’Neal played well on the junior varsity team in 2022 and also hopes to get a fair share of reps on the varsity team this year.

For the full story, subscribe here.

For more sports pictures, see here.

Photos online

0 Comments

Public Notice - Subscribe

Related News

Plano East softball camp brings out the smiles

Plano East softball camp brings out the smiles

Ava Lamb fields the throw at first after a short hit during a fun competition on Thursday. The sun was shining, and the smiles were plentiful as the campers enjoyed their final day of the camp. (Austin Smith/Murphy Monitor) (More Photos) The Plano East softball...

read more
Future hoop stars pack PESH gym for youth camp

Future hoop stars pack PESH gym for youth camp

Zeke Benedetto dribbles the ball through a cone drill as Coach Shanda Tyler and camper Kiyn Bhavsar look on. Last week’s youth basketball camp had a terrific turnout. (Austin Smith/Murphy Monitor) (More Photos) While the future of Plano East softball was busy outside...

read more
Progress the theme to Panthers’ 7-on-7 work

Progress the theme to Panthers’ 7-on-7 work

Following the end of spring football in late-May, the Plano East’s skilled position players shifted their focus to 7-on-7. The Panthers have hit the field twice already, competing in Allen and Arlington. (Austin Smith/Murphy Monitor) (More Photos) While the calendar...

read more
Panthers close out spring with Black & Gold Game

Panthers close out spring with Black & Gold Game

Kariem Pittman (15) breaks loose in the open field for Plano East’s Black Team in last week’s spring game at Kimbrough Field. The Panthers put on a terrific showing for the crowd in their final action in pads until next fall. (Roosevelt Joubert/Murphy Monitor)...

read more
Plano East football holds spring scrimmage

Plano East football holds spring scrimmage

The Plano East football team held a scrimmage last Saturday, before concluding spring football sessions this week with the annual Black and Gold Spring Game. (Roosevelt Joubert/Murphy Monitor) (More Photos) It’s been an exciting spring for the Plano East football...

read more
PESH hunting for improvement in spring practices 

PESH hunting for improvement in spring practices 

The Plano East Panthers are several weeks into their spring football schedule, working hard in preparation for next fall. They will hold an intersquad scrimmage this Saturday, May 11, at 9 a.m. (Austin Smith/Murphy Monitor) (More Photos) Football is back at Plano...

read more
Panthers see tough season come to an end

Panthers see tough season come to an end

The Plano East Panthers have endured a frustrating spring on the baseball diamond. That season came to an end last week with a pair of losses to Coppell to drop them to 1-13 in the group. (Roosevelt Joubert/Murphy Monitor) (More Photos) The Plano East baseball season...

read more
PESH takes home district crown 

PESH takes home district crown 

The Plano East boys track team won the District 6-6A title at Marauder Stadium on Thursday, April 4. The Panthers edged out Coppell by a score of 129-113, with Marcus placing third (108 points) (Courtesy Photo) The Plano East track teams had quite the showing at the...

read more
40-0! Plano East completes perfect season with title 

40-0! Plano East completes perfect season with title 

The Plano East Panthers are the Class 6A State Champions after defeating Round Rock Stony Point 53-41. After opening the state tournament with a 61-45 victory over Lake Ridge, the guys earned their 40th victory of the season by winning the rematch with Stony Point to...

read more
Public Notice - Subscribe