Countdown to Kickoff: Derby Panther football
DERBY, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - Talent and tradition in Derby. But what separates the Panthers year after year is their ability to bring the talent together into a team.
“We all know we have talented players, but it’s the team that makes us special,” said senior defensive end Samuel Same, an Iowa State commit. “Being able to come together and work hard to be the best we can be is what makes us special every year.”
Head coach Brandon Clark added, “You’ve gotta pinch yourself sometimes. This is a great group of kids. I can’t be more proud of this team.”
And becoming a senior leader is a heralded honor to those who come through the program.
“It means everything,” said senior running back Dylan Edwards, the reigning Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year. “Just looking up at the underclassmen as kids, them coming to your games now like we do with little kids right now. Just having that family atmosphere here in Derby is really special.”
On Day 1 of a new season, the Panthers began practice at 5:30 a.m. With just a handful of starters back on both sides of the ball, the work to putting players into new roles is well underway.
“We have a lot of new faces, but they’re not new to the program. These kids have been in it, in high school for four years and the program for 12 years. We know them real well, they know what to do, and they’ve waited their turn and they’re ready to shine,” Clark said.
While the focus of the Panthers offense is Edwards after totaling 2,603 yards and 38 touchdowns, there’s no limit of weapons. Brock Zerger started at receiver last seasons dn is competing at quarterback with junior Braxton Clark. Wyatt Jackson is the lone starter back on the offensive line while Derek Hubbard spelled Edwards in the backfield for 402 yards and five touchdowns last season.
The defense is fueled by the leadership of the man Clark calls ‘Mr. 100%,’ senior linebacker Miles Wash. The recent Southern Illinois commit was an all-stater last season with 127 tackles (13 for loss), six sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception.
“It’s a huge compliment, but it’s just giving 100% everyday in everything I do whether it’s in the classroom, on the field, at home, just doing what I can to be my best and make everyone around me better,” Wash said.
The Panthers lost in the state championship game last season to Blue Valley Northwest, prohibiting Derby from a fourth-straight title. Their goals this season align with the expectations that come with the tradition.
Our biggest expectation comes down to getting better every rep, every day, putting in 100% effort,” Same said. “Our goal is to win state every year, so we’re trying to come back. It’s definitely personal this year because we have to come back.”
2022 Derby Schedule
9/2 - vs. Manhattan
9/9 - @ Salina South
9/16 - @ Bishop Carroll
9/23 - vs. Hutchinson
9/30 - @ Campus
10/7 - vs. Maize
10/14 - @ Maize South
10/21 - vs. Newton
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