Hibriten sets sights in 2013 season

Nov. 23, 2012 @ 08:17 AM

The 2013 Hibriten Panthers will have some big shoes to fill, but the good news is there’s still plenty of talent on the roster.

Hibriten (7-5) ended its season with a 35-17 loss to conference rival Hickory in the first round of the state 3A playoffs on Nov. 2, marking the final games for 15 Panthers seniors.

Leading rusher and scorer Devell Maxwell (1,042 yards rushing, 13 touchdowns) is a rising junior and is expected back, as is rising senior and second-leading rusher Zac Walker (536 yards, seven TDs). A key loss for an offensive unit that averaged 320.5 yards a game is receiver and big-play threat Tori Smith, who caught seven passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns.

The biggest hits come on the offensive and defensive lines with the loss of six seniors — Dustin Wiggins, Grant Icenhour, Shamar Logan, Jacob Bacon, Mason Minton and Jordan Sumpter.

Hibriten head coach Clay Lewis feels good about the linemen he has coming back, but he says depth in that area is going to be a concern heading into next season.

“Offensively, I think we’re going to be in real good shape,” Lewis said. “I think we can put five pretty good ones out there that didn’t have a lot of game experience. Defensively, we have Logan Arnold coming back. He started at nose guard as a sophomore. He’s played a lot in two years, and Drake Felder and Hunter Penley are coming in. They were backups this year on the defensive line. We feel pretty good about those two guys. They’re good players. We feel good about what we have coming back up front. The big issue we’ll have is depth. We have to develop some depth from our JVs in the offseason.”

Lewis said the team started its off-season training program Monday and added that they’ll work out through the holiday break. They’ll take Christmas break off, but they’ll get right back after it come the first of the year.

“Since the season ended, we’ve been working on next season — coaches included,” Lewis said. “I think the guys are excited about next year.”