By TAYLOR GRAFFT
The Liberty Hill Panthers Football team will look to seniors Will Fromme and John Spurgeon to lead them by example this season as they gear up for their August 30 season-opener against Giddings.
Both players bring invaluable experience to the Panthers’ Varsity team and Head Coach Jerry Vance hopes the other players will look up to and learn from their work ethic and character.
“Both young men are very hard workers who take a lot of pride in who they are and what they are about,” Vance said. “I expect them to lead in a positive manner to win championships. Both Will and John are experienced players. We would hope they would lead by example and effort on the practice field and on the game field.”
Despite many of the Texas High School teams switching to a spread offense attack, Coach Vance and the Panthers will rely on running the ball down their opponents’ throats—and why change, as it has been so successful for the Panthers in the past.
Fromme is the starting running back and will look to carry the Panthers’ strong rushing attack throughout the season. Fromme rushed for 526 yards last season and scored seven touchdowns while averaging 6.34 yards per carry.
Spurgeon, who plays defensive end, will look to lead the Panthers’ defense and help stop their opponents’ offenses. Spurgeon finished with 13 tackles last season and two sacks. He also forced two fumbles.
“On defense we need to hit harder,” Spurgeon said. “I need to hit harder and come at it at a different angle. As a team I think we’ll do really well this year.”
Both players have a passion for the game of football and expect big things for the upcoming season.
A strong team unity and family-like atmosphere helped Spurgeon get interested in football.
“I went through a lot when I was little,” Spurgeon said. “I used football as kind of a getaway in the seventh grade. Football became something I was really good at and the family and the relationships with everybody on the team was strong and it was a great place to be.”
Fromme’s interest in football started from his memories of his father and uncle playing football. They both played varsity in a small town near Corpus Christi. Both support Fromme’s football career by coming to watch all his games.
Fromme and Spurgeon came into their leadership roles not because of the coaches, but through a vote by their teammates.
“The coaches give us role cards and the team picks the leaders and vote on it.”
Both players are also really excited about playing in a new stadium this season because playing on grass and playing on turf are two different things.
“It’s definitely an edge up with a new stadium and everything,” Fromme said. “It gives you some new pride and self-esteem and makes you want to play that much harder.”
The Panthers have been preparing this month by playing scrimmages against La Grange and Sealy, as well as an Intrasquad scrimmage. The scrimmages have helped the coaches determine what things the team is doing well and what areas the team still needs improvement on before their season-opener.
“We’ve just been working on getting better,” Fromme said. “We’re in good shape.”
The Panthers played their first scrimmage against La Grange on August 17 and the coaches learned a lot.
“As you do with any first scrimmage there is a lot to be learned,” said Coach Vance.
Vance was able to observe how much effort the players were giving, and if they were using the correct techniques. He was also watching the players to see if they were in the correct position.
Scrimmages are also a good indicator of how the roster will change before the season opener. Coach Vance said there is a lot of movement after a first scrimmage and that it, “put a few kids on a bubble as to whether or not they are varsity material.”
Now he is looking to see if there might be someone behind a few of his players that is better suited for the position, or if they will hold down their roster spots.
A team motto that Coach Vance has been preaching this offseason and the players have heard through their football careers is “Hold the Rope.”
“The coaches told us to look at everyone in the locker room and asked us if we would hold the rope for these people,” Spurgeon said. “Because they’re all going to hold the rope for you. It’s been a phrase we’ve heard since junior high. The saying is true, we all expect everyone to do their jobs.”