BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Two steps forward, one step back would be an improvement for the McKinley Panthers in year two with head coach Ken Hilton, who chastised his team after Wednesday's 7-on-7 drills at Live Oak.
"We're trying to teach them to learn how to play for four quarters. Play through adversity, play through good times and just come out with the same intensity and tempo and play all four quarters at the same speed," said Hilton also referring to an up and down performance in the Panthers' spring game against U-High, which was missing many of its best players.
McKinley is coming off an up-and-down 4-7 season, in which the Panthers went 2-3 in pre-district games and 2-3 in 5-5A, but were 4-4 before suffering lopsided losses to East Ascension and Catholic to close out the regular season and a 42-0 playoff setback to Brother Martin in Division I.
Hilton may be sending a message to this year's team about competing better too. Hilton says he's got Broadmoor transfer Zach Johnson and Treylon Nelson competing against each other in an open quarterback battle.
The Panthers also have four more players at running back in competition for playing time in the backfield, led by Manny Knighten, Tre Lowery, Nick Veal and Jayren Thomas.
Hilton says he has enough quality senior leadership and those guys are starting to come around to his way of challenging them. "I think we've still got a lot to work on," said 6-3 senior Joshua Quiett, one of those seniors who expects to be a difference maker at wide receiver.
Tehran Daggs should be another for the Panthers, providing senior leadership in the secondary and another speedster when he's targeted in the throwing game. Kaleb Augustus and Chandler Whitmore join Quiett and Daggs to give McKinley more threats in the passing attack.