Panthers coach excited about spring football workouts

By T. Scott Boatright

Lincoln Preparatory School’s fall success on the gridiron has carried over into the spring with the Panthers touting better numbers than ever before at the midpoint of off-season football workouts.

The Panthers went 7-5 last season, defeating Delhi 48-16 in the opening round of the playoffs before falling to Haynesville, which made it to the semifinals before falling against eventual state champion homer.

And that success has added a new flavor to this year’s spring workouts for the Panthers.

“The excitement out here is something we’ve never seen around here this time of year,” said Panthers coach Glen Hall. “We’ve had a consistent 35-38 out here every practice this spring. I’ve struggled to get players out in the spring previously. Since I’ve been here, I’ve never had more than 30. And those numbers don’t include eighth graders going into ninth, so the numbers will be even better once summer preseason practice starts.”

Lincoln Prep lost some key seniors off of last season’s team, starting with D’Mitry Payne, who returned 27 kickoffs on the year for 1,231 yards and seven touchdowns. Payne also hauled in 58 passes for 1,020 yards and nine touchdowns, returned 27 kickoffs for 1,231 yards and another seven touchdowns while adding 231 rushing yards and seven more scores on only 13 carries.

The Panthers will also have to replace quarterback/receiver Tarrell Simmons, who connected on 93-of-165 pass attempts for 1,301 yards and 18 touchdowns with six interceptions while adding 971 rushing yards and 13 scores on 102 carries.

But Simmons’ rushing and receiving abilities caused Hall and Co. to give receiver Braylin Mayfield playing time behind center last season, and that playing time will be crucial in 2022.

“Mayfield will be our quarterback,” Hall said. “He has good size and really has a bigger arm than Simmons. He doesn’t run like Simmons, but is still quick and will stay in the pocket more and rely on his arm.

The Panthers also lost a pair of huge lineman in Imani Marcel and Amaru Landry but still have a solid corps returning to the trenches.

“We have everybody else back, and because of injuries all of our returnees got playing time last season,” Hall said. “Plus we have a lot of new kids — ninth graders whose names I’m still learning. But I really like the way our lines are shaping up.”

Senior running back Chancy Harper, who has contributed since the eighth grade, will be back to lead a running back group that will also return Jamarius Buggs along with a newcomer Hall said he’s excited about — transfer Jacorey Tatum out of Lawton, Oklahoma. 

“He’s not real big but is talented and can go both offense and defense for us,” Hall said. “He’s a beast and is going to be a big help for us. I just wish we were going to have him longer, because he’ll be a senior.”

Hall is probably most excited about the way his defensive secondary is rounding into place.

“We have so many skills guys — Jarmarius and Jamarion Buggs, Mayfield, who played some free safety last year, Jaiden Page and Jerry Lee, who played some at linebacker, too, last year,” Hall said. “Linebacker Verlanski Glosson is having a great spring. We have a lot of pieces, we just have to figure out how to best fit them all together.”

Hall doesn’t expect to figure it all out before next week’s end of spring workouts.

In fact, he’s just happy to have his first round of spring practices since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“Ten days isn’t enough to figure it all out, it’s just good to see how the team is working and making progress,” Hall said. “They’re excited to be out here. They have me excited. I’m running around like I’m 27-years-old again.

“We have enthusiasm. We have guys who are running around out there and competing. And that’s all we can ask for this time of year. And it’s a great thing to see.

Hall said it doesn’t appear the Panthers will play a spring game following a recent coaching change at Monroe’s Carroll High School, but he added that he expects more good news about his team’s preseason to be coming out soon.

“I can’t talk about it yet until everything is a done deal,” Hall said. “But there’s something in the pipeline that will be very good for Lincoln Prep and Lincoln Parish as a whole. And that’s just one more thing to be excited about.” 

 
 

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