After weeks of hitting each other, the Van Alstyne Panthers are ready to lay the smack down on someone else as the Fall football season starts to click into gear.
First, however, was the Panthers’ annual Blue-White scrimmage on Aug. 9. The morning was a showcase for the fans, an introduction of a squad that returns 22 varsity players from last year — eight starters on offense and eight starters on defense.
Any coach will tell you that an early season intra-squad scrimmage is not going to show beyond all doubt how a team is going to fare the rest of the season, but it is a good way to get a look at the squad, players and positions.
"It was a way for us to evaluate our personnel, who we think can go where and if we need to move anybody to any different position," said Van Alstyne Head Coach Mikeal Miller. "All in all, it was a really good scrimmage."
The Panthers ran approximately 60 plays over the span of an hour, utilizing different combination packages. Miller said that there are no major position battles going on in camp this year, particularly at quarterback where Alex Phillips returns as the starter after being named last year’s district Offensive Player of the Year. Miller said, however, that the Panthers have a strong backup in Bryce Moody, who will take some snaps and play on defense, as well.
Ultimately, Saturday morning was a chance for players to get some work done in only their second day in full pads.
"We had a good turnout, a good crowd here," said Miller. "We expected it to be a little sloppy at times, and it was, but for the most part our kids got after it."
Van Alstyne has a pair of scrimmages on the calendar before it can really start recording wins and losses. First up is a Friday scrimmage at home against Gunter. Freshman will take the field at 6 p.m., followed by the junior varsity at around 6:30 p.m. and then the varsity around 7 p.m. Following that is an Aug. 21 scrimmage against Melissa with location and time to be announced as stadium renovations are ongoing at Melissa High School. While the Cardinals are using their field — there is no question with the new turf — the parking and bleachers are new and MHS Coach Seth Stinton wants to make sure everything is as safe as possible for fans. There is a slight possibility that the game could be played in Van Alstyne.
Van Alstyne is in District 5-3A this year following UIL reclassification. The district includes Whitesboro, Pilot Point, Pottsboro, Farmersville and Callisburg. The Panthers open the season on the road at Quinlan Ford on Aug. 29 and the district season on the road at Whitesboro on Oct. 10.