BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - After allowing 303 points in its seven losses in 2016, the Woodlawn Panthers expect to see significant improvement in their defense and their record for 2017.
"We're fast, we're physical, we fly to the football," said head coach Daniel Luquet in describing a unit that actually has twelve returning seniors for eleven spots on that side of the ball.
"We communicate, and that's the thing that's exciting," the Panthers second year head coach added, noting seniors Xavier Lodge at safety, Anthony Arinze at defensive end and nose guard/defensive tackle Kyron Mims all have multiple offers from colleges that are recruiting them.
Luquet is also confident an offense that struggled in the Panthers' spring game work against Scotlandville and John Ehret, will be much better this fall in the hands of senior quarterback Brian Byrd.
The converted wide receiver who wore #80 and played pass catcher for the Panthers as a sophomore, went through spring practices as Woodlawn's signal caller and continues this summer with a knee brace for 7-on-7. However, Byrd was held out of the three-way game-like finale, and isn't expected to be cleared for contact until just before the season begins.
Byrd, who now wears #1, suffered a torn ACL just before his junior season started in a fall scrimmage and Woodlawn struggled to a 3-7 record without him.
The Panthers biggest tests in this year's new 6-4A district come at the end of the season, so Byrd and the offense will have some time to jell before facing Lutcher, Plaquemine and Parkview Baptist to close out their 2017 schedule.