Panthers Seek to Re-Tool Offense Behind New QB [VIDEO]
The Panthers of Union County have had some productive quarterbacks over the past seven years or so. Start with Joseph Mancuso, who compiled 8,110 passing yards over three season and 88 TD, both within the top 10 in state history at the time of his graduation. The dual threat also logged 2,048 rushing yards and another 21 scores.
Then came Cole Wright, a different dual threat who was a bit quicker in speed but without the power arm of Mancuso. Wright in two seasons had 3,951 yards passing and 34 TD, but showed off more with the legs to the tune of 2,676 rushing yards and 35 TD.
Next up was Pierson Allison, who just graduated. He was a blend of both Wright and Mancuso, and finished his prep career with 6,090 passing yards and 56 TD to go along with 1,172 rushing yards and 16 TD. That trio combined for 18,151 passing yards and 178 TDs as well as 5,896 rushing yards and another 72 TDs. That’s 24,047 total yards and 250 touchdowns. Very productive. Mancuso went on to Richmond University, Wright to Army-West Point, and Allison got a shot with Berry College. So who’s next?
Logan Helcher. A junior who got one game started under his belt last season, a win at Banks County. All told, he has some experience (391 pass yds, 4 TD, 4 INT; 96 rush yds).
“Helcher has a chance to be the same type of quarterback as those guys,” says head coach Brian Allison, who enters his 19th season at Union County and 25th overall. “He has a strong arm. He doesn’t have the arm or the size that Joe had, he doesn’t have the speed that Cole had. He’s kind of his own guy. He has a strong arm, it’s accurate. He runs pretty well. The biggest thing for him…is just going to take some experience and game time to get him in some rhythm.”
Allison has 142 wins to his credit, 117 of which have come with the Panthers.
His offense will replace Pierson Allison, Sawyer Drake, and Kyle Morlock, a trio that did the bulk of the damage on offense over the past two seasons. Still, the Panthers bring back senior running back Jonah Daniel, who rushed for 1,570 yards last season with 16 TD, as well as 237 receiving yards and another 2 TD. Overall, his career has seen him rush for 2,040 yards and 24 TD.
Allison feels like his skill position players are getting better, and that there will be a little learning curve for those positions.
The defense meanwhile brings back proven guys like Noah Underwood, Kaston Hemphill, Clayton Lester, JJ Littles, and others who stood out from a year ago. Despite the departure of top tacklers John Mancuso and Sloan Sutton, the defense should pick right back up.
“It may be a premature conversation, but so far what I’ve seen I’ve liked,” says Allison. “Very competitive at linebacker, very competitive in the secondary. The part that will have to come around is our defensive front. Just trying to get those parts to fit together.”
The goal this season will be per usual in Blairsville – compete.
“It’s just the same expectations we have year in and year out,” says Allison. “That’s to compete week in and week out. Mold them for their future; we’re building young men. Just trying to create good young men who will be productive in society.”