Catalyst (cat-a-lyst) noun: A person or thing that precipitates an event.
When you think of a football team, what is the person or thing that precipitates an event? Who is the group, or unit that makes everything happen? Where does the success or failure of each offensive play come from? The anwser is simple and most football guys will tell you. Offensive success always starts up front, in the trenches with the big boys, The Hawg Mollies, the Big Uglies. Abbeville will be putting a big, tough, gritty, experienced group of hawgs on the offensive line this year. The Panthers lost two college caliber O-Lineman to graduation. Jake Hill is suiting up for Coastal Carolina this season, and Tillman Allen is red-shirting at Erskine. The rest of the Panther O-Line returns much to the dismay of opposing defenses. Speaking with Abbeville offensive line coach, (and former Abbeville Hawg Mollie) Coach Wayne Botts, he said “Yeah we’re pretty much set on the line this season. Got some good size, there ain’t a lot of Joneses out there. Glad he’s on our team. We’ll roll with pretty much the same group as last year, Jake’s spot, we’ll move Davis (Sutherland) in there and that’s pretty much it. We have a few guys who can play different positions. We do some cross training for them, but the starting five is pretty much set.”
The “Jones” he mentioned is Trai Jones. Most of you read about the 6’4″ 275lb senior earlier this summer when he wowed college coaches at scouting combines. Jones picked up a scholarship offer, and subsequently committed to the University of South Carolina. His combination of power, speed and God given size make him a very unique high school lineman. While Jones is a physical specimen, he’s not out there by himself. Connor Nickles has cemented himself as a leader on the team and the captain of the Hawg Mollies. A three year starter at center, and an absolute bull in the weight room, Nickles has the brains and braun to lead this year’s group of Panthers. DaDa Bowie returns for his senior season at left guard. Bowie brings a physicality to the position that you love to see out of your guards. He’ll be ‘climbing to the next level’ often (meaning, he has to block linebackers) so his quick first step, and contact seeking nature is going to suit him well this season. Davis Sutherland is the new kid on the block. He got some good playing time last season in games that got out of hand, and instantly proved he had what it takes to stand his ground in the trenches. His size, and tenacity will wear down opponents and open running lanes for Panther running backs. DeMichael Johnson returns at right tackle this season. Johnson graded out near 90% last season, which is exceptional for any lineman. Another year in the weight room and a solid couple years experience has Johnson primed to have his best season yet. He’s thick, sturdy and can move and bend very well. He also can turn on the mean streak like a light switch. Jim Porter will be in the rotation this season, he’s training at guard and center and will provide quality depth. Jake Adams, Dawson Hughes and Addison Nickles will also get to put their hand in the dirt this season.
From the snap of the ball to protecting the quarterback, to opening up rushing lanes, everything begins up front. The Panthers have a great group of Hawg Mollies this year and it’s going to be fun watching them eat on Friday nights. Get ready Panther fans! You’ll get your first peak of the champs on August 9th at the WCTEL Kickoff Classic as they will take on BHP. Until then…
God Bless and Go Panthers!