JEFFERSON – Science has never been able to confirm the power of a lucky rabbit’s foot, but every once in a while a team with championship aspirations will get snake bit in a way that makes you wonder.
That was the situation the Jefferson Panthers found themselves in last year.
“You know, last year was really a lot of bad luck that hurt us,” said head football coach Clint Layng. “We were 5-0 and playing well and lost six starters both ways — two way starters in two weeks last year. That kind of derailed us. Down the stretch we were running wildcat a lot, having to put Hayden Guisti at quarterback and he was our fullback. It was one of those things where we came across a lot of bad luck last year, to be honest with you.”
Their luck may be turning around this season, though. Not to jinx anything, but because of all those injures, the younger guys got extra game time they might not have otherwise, building an experienced group for this time around.
“I stressed this offseason that I wanted it to be an ‘our’ team,” said senior Bryce Harrington. “So I wanted everybody to be involved, whether you’re a junior or a sophomore. I want everybody to have an individual responsibility. You know, it’s not the senior’s team, it’s everybody’s team. I feel like that’s how you get overall team leadership.”
“We’ve been playing together for four years, so we all kind of know each other,” senior Dalton Rykal told us. “We all know each other, it’s been pretty easy to get along. None of us are really jerks, I guess, so it’s pretty easy.”
Leadership, experience and preparation are solid foundations for a team. But I couldn’t help but wonder if after last year coach Layng was taking any supernatural precautions this fall.
“No. I’m not too big into stuff like that,” laughed Layng. “I just consider that’s just the way it goes sometimes. There’s no reason for it. I’ve never had that happen to the degree that it happened last year. It just seemed like one of those things.”
Knock on wood he’s right, but there might be one thing they want to avoid, just to be safe.
“Well last year we started wearing those pink sock things over our shoes and that’s when everybody started getting hurt,” said Rykal. “So I don’t think we’re doing that again.”
Probably not a bad idea.