By Marla Jones, Sports Editor
COLLINSVILLE, Ala.— I went “Inside the Huddle” with the Collinsville Panthers on the first official day of football practice with helmets. State laws say that a team has to wear helmets for two days of practice and then they can don the pads. Several parents and fans alike were there to watch the Panthers in action. Excitement was in the air….football season is about to start.
This will be the third year that Collinsville has been in Class 2A. In the first year, they went 4-6 and was one game from making the playoffs. In their second year, the team went 6-4 and made the playoffs. This year they are making progress and should be able to make it deep into the playoffs. The team is very athletic and has experience at the skill positions. The line will be very young but has great potential. Depth will be an issue if they occur injuries. For this season, they will run the spread offense and 3-4 (multiple) defense.
Coach Willingham stated that their “schedule was brutal but very exciting.” Following realignment, the Panthers will remain in Class 2A but will move to region six. Several rivals will be back on the Panther schedule. The Panthers will kick off their season against Crossville, for the first time since 2003. Crossville won the last competition 56-7. Collinsville and Crossville have met a total of 73 times on the field. This season the Panthers will once again face Sand Rock, whom they have not faced in several years. Westbrook has been added back to the schedule and they will face a new opponent, the Asbury Rams.
Collinsville Varsity Football finished the 2015 season with a 6-5 record. The team was 3-3 in region play. They lost to Randolph County in the first round of the playoffs.
The Collinsville Panthers practiced throughout the summer. Grades 7-12 practiced together. The practice is comprised of field exercises and inside workouts.
Collinsville has ten returning seniors. The team boasts seven returning defensive starters and four returning offensive starters. Collinsville has several newcomers to the field that will impact the team out significantly.
Coach Ernie Willingham will return for his ninth season as the Head Coach for the Collinsville Panthers. His coaching team consists of : Coach Riley Edwards-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line, Coach Jon Tidmore-Quarterbacks/Junior High, Coach Chuck Dutton-Linebackers, Coach Shane Stewart-Receivers, Coach Teddy Helms-Special Teams, Coach Mike McElrath-Running Backs, Coach Mark Patterson-Defensive Backs, Coach Jeff Stanley and Coach Chris Conde-Offensive Line.
The Collinsville Panthers will kick off the 2016 season at home as they face the Crossville Lions on August 26, 2016. They will host the Ider Hornets on September 2, 2016. The Panthers will travel to Gaston on September 9, 2016. The Panthers return home as they face Asbury on September 16, 2016. The Panthers will have home field advantage as they take on Cedar Bluff on September 23, 2016. Collinsville will travel to face Westbook Christian on September 30, 2016. The Panthers will host the Fyffe Red Devils on October 7, 2016. For the last three games of the regular season, Collinsville will be on the road: They travel to Sand Rock on October 14, 2016, Section on October 21, 2016 and will end the 2016 regular season with the Valley Head Tigers on October 27, 2016.
The Collinsville Panthers have the determination and talent to succeed this year and should be able to go deep into the playoffs. Collinsville will definitely be a team to watch.