Gap looks to pick up where it left off in ’21

Published 2:23 pm Tuesday, August 9, 2022

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Contributing writer

The 2022 edition of the Cumberland Gap Panther football team is looking to continue its road of improvement that was started in 2021.

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2021 was a topsy-turvy season for the Panthers, finishing the campaign with a 5-6 mark. The Panthers found victories over Thomas Walker VA (36-14), Lynn Camp (KY) 38-6, Happy Valley 36-12, Hancock County 30-8, and 46-30.

However, their record could have easily been improved if not for a tight loss to Chuckey Doak 28-20, an instant classic defeat at Pineville (Kentucky) 55-50, and a razor-close loss to archrival Claiborne 18-16, a fact not lost on Panther coach Brett McPherson.

“We lost two games literally on the last play of the game. We need to give greater consistent effort. We need to get mentally tougher in order to play through adversity. The coaching staff must do a better job stressing the “little things” daily,” McPherson said.

Although the Panthers graduate twelve seniors including running backs Dylan Ellison, Logan Napier, and Ethan Slusher, linebacker Bryson Ellis, and linemen Avery Hatfield, Cameron Leight, and CJ Partin, a young core of Panthers will be ready to lead the theme into battle.

The contingent will be led by lineman Bill Surber, running back Jacob Brown, and a host of sophomores and juniors ready to take the next step.

Offensively, look for the Panthers to continue to utilize the power running game on offense. Although a classic football offensive concept, the Panthers ran the ball with great success last season.

“We have several veterans returning on the o-line and they will determine our success offensively,” said McPherson.

The Gap defense will be tested early and often this season as an entirely new defense will look to keep the progress moving forward for McPherson and the Panthers.

“Defensively we will have 11 new starters in Game 1 from last year. They are currently learning how to play together and trusting that each will do his job. We still need a lot of work on tackling and playing with great leverage.”

Like many local programs, the keys to the Panthers and their success on the gridiron come from many familiar tenets.

“We want to be the most disciplined and physical team every Friday night,” McPherson said. “Everything else will take care of itself. We have very low numbers so we will need to avoid the injuries and be in great shape.”

The 2022 schedule begins on Aug 19 as CGHS opens up play in Arthur against Grainger.
2022 Panthers Schedule

Aug. 19 Grainger

Aug. 26 at Thomas Walker

Sept. 9 Union County

Sept. 16 at South Greene*

Sept. 23 Lynn Camp

Sept. 30 Happy Valley*

Oct. 7 Chuckey Doak

Oct. 14 at Hampton*

Oct. 21 at Twin Springs VA

Oct. 28 at Claiborne

*District Game