Austin Hogan won’t leave the field much for the Paradise Panthers this season, and he doesn’t mind.
The Paradise senior will carry the ball on the offense and play outside linebacker on defense.
“I do a little bit of everything,” Hogan said. “I’m sure I’ll be in on special teams.”
The speedy Hogan broke out last season for the Panthers as a running back. He finished with 447 yards after becoming the feature back.
“I got the ball quite a bit at the end of the year,” Hogan said.
He closed the season with 163 yards on 28 carries against Ponder. It was one of two 100-yard games for Hogan. He had 110 against Callisburg and 92 against Bowie.
This year, he will split carries with three other backs – Darian Sotomi, Chris Hill and Cash Preather.
At 6-0 and 182 pounds and with solid 4.6 speed, Hogan can be a load to bring down and catch up to. His speed on the baseball diamond gave opponents fits as he became an all-district infielder with a .386 batting average.
“I could always beat out ground balls,” Hogan explained.
While piling up the yards and hoping to find the end zone, Hogan is quick to point out that he must hold on to the ball to give his team a chance to win, especially with the Panthers’ ball-control, running offense.
“I have to make sure I don’t lose the ball,” he said.
Defensively, the Panthers will utilize Hogan’s speed at outside linebacker. After a strong offseason and summer in the weight room, he expects to be better.
“I’ll use all my strengths. I’m faster and stronger,” Hogan said.
While he admits filling all the roles are tiring, he enjoys the opportunity to do both.
“It’s fun. One side you hit someone and the other you make a move and run past them,” Hogan said.
He’s hoping the move he makes at the end of the year is into the playoffs. He expects an improved Panthers team to be in contention for a postseason berth out of the new 4-3A Division I.
“We’ll be a lot better,” Hogan predicts.
After a pair of coaching changes before the start of the 2013 season, the Paradise Panthers went through their share of ups and downs once play started.
The Panthers, in their first season under longtime assistant Scott Broussard, finished 1-9.
“Last year we were trying to play catchup. We were putting in the offense and special teams schemes in August,” Broussard recalled.
While not coming out on top on the scoreboard, Broussard and his players saw growth.
“By the end of district, we got better,” Broussard said. “We just never found a way to finish games and get over the top.”
During a grueling offseason, the Panthers hope they’ve developed the tools to get over the top this season.
“The past nine months have been crazy. We’ve been working out nonstop,” said center Blake Brown. “We’ve decided that 1-9 wasn’t going to happen again. We expect nothing less than the playoffs.”
Offensively, the Panthers bring back explosive and speedy runners in Chris Hill and Austin Hogan to work behind an offensive line that improved last year. It brings back three starters.
The Panthers go into the fall looking for a quarterback to step forward. Colton Wells and Kash Helton entered the team’s scrimmage with Lindsay battling for the job. Wells broke his wrist during the scrimmage, and Helton earned the post.
Defensively, Paradise allowed 381 yards per game last year. The Panthers return most of their defense.
In non-district, Paradise faces Life Red Oak, Henrietta, Jacksboro, Krum and Alvord. Henrietta, Jacksboro and Krum were playoff teams last year. The group went a combined 23-31.
“It’s a good schedule. We have an opportunity to compete, but every team is good enough to beat us if we don’t play,” Broussard said.
The Panthers join 4-3A Division I with district foes from last year – Boyd, Bowie and Ponder. Paradise also is grouped with Breckenridge and Brock. The Panthers got away from Whitesboro and Pilot Point – two playoff teams from their previous 5-2A Division I league.
“It’s a very competitive district,” Broussard said. “Everyone has a shot at the playoffs. It’s which team stays healthy and improves.”
Come November, the Panthers hope the playoffs are being talked about for the first time since 2008.
Aug. 29 … Life Red Oak … Away … 7:30
Sept. 5 … Henrietta … Home … 7:30
Sept. 12 … Jacksboro … Away … 7:30
Sept. 19 … Krum (HC) … Home … 7:30
Sept. 26 … Alvord … Away … 7:30
Oct. 3 … Open
Oct. 10 … *Ponder … Home … 7:30
Oct. 17 … *Breckenridge … Home … 7:30
Oct. 24 … *Boyd … Away … 7:30
Oct. 31 … *Brock … Home … 7:30
Nov. 7 … *Bowie … Away … 7:30
* Denotes District 4-3A Div. I game
Grandview 70, Paradise 0
Henrietta 22, Paradise 6
Leonard 34, Paradise 19
Krum 27, Paradise 7
Whitesboro 56, Paradise 0
Paradise 13, Bowie 10
Pilot Point 50, Paradise 2
Callisburg 35, Paradise 14
Boyd 49, Paradise 31
Ponder 22, Paradise 19
Final record – 1-9
1 … Colton Wells … 11 … QB/DB
2 … Cash Preather … 12 … RB/DB
4 … Darian Sotomi … 11 … RB/DB
5 … Chris Hill … 12 … RB/DB
6 … Kash Helton … 11 … QB/DB
8 … Cole Harris … 12 … WR/DB
9 … Skyler Clawson … 12 … WR/DB
21 … Kaleb Connor … 12 … WR/DB
22 … Austin Hogan … 12 … RB/LB
24 … Luke Gage … 12 … WR/DB
36 … Grayson Cobb … 11 … WR/DB
40 … Nick Loney … 12 … RB/LB
41 … Colton Brown … 12 … TE/OLB
50 … Seth Grammer … 10 … OL/LB
51 … Channing Hamilton … 11 … OL/DL
54 … Carlos Powers … 11 … OL/DL
55 … Carlos Carrilo … 11 … OL/DL
56 … Blake Brown … 11 … OL/DL
65 … Zachary Wood … 12 … OL/DL
67 … TJ Weger … 11 … OL/DL
70 … Deric Connor … 11 … OL/DL
71 … Alfonso Deleija … 12 … OL/DL
72 … Tanner Edwards … 11 … OL/DL
77 … Jacob Posey … 11 … OL/DL
80 … Jacob Branscum … 12 … TE/LB
88 … Hunter Anthony … 11 … TE/LB
After a slow start, the Paradise Panthers’ offense found its legs late last season.
The Panthers scored 50 of their 101 points for the season in the final two games against Boyd and Ponder.
The emergence of fullback Austin Hogan in the running game was a big part of the Panthers’ late-season success. He rushed for 163 yards and two touchdowns against Ponder. Hogan also turned in 110 yards against Callisburg.
“The last three games we rushed the ball extremely well,” said Paradise coach Scott Broussard. “We’re hoping to build on that. We have good running backs, and our linemen are stronger.”
Hogan is back to join Chris Hill, Cash Preather and Darian Sotomi in the backfield.
Hogan rushed 447 yards last year on 81 carries.
“We’re not the biggest guys,” Hogan said about the group of backs. “What we don’t have in size, we make up for with speed and agility.”
Broussard added: “They all run good and have the opportunity to break some big plays.”
The Panthers entered the fall unsettled at quarterback with Kash Helton and Colton Wells competing for the starting job. Neither had taken a varsity snap, but Wells broke his wrist during the first scrimmage. Helton will go into the season as the Paradise quarterback.
Leading up to the first scrimmage, against Lindsay, Broussard felt comfortable that each could run the Panthers’ offense. He said the passing game will have to improve.
“We’ve got to become well-balanced,” Broussard said.
Luke Gage and Skyler Clawson are on the outside at receiver. Colton Brown and Hunter Anthony will be at tight end.
The strength of the offense will be up front on the line. The group returns three starters – tackle Zach Wood, center Blake Brown and guard Alfonso Deleija. Carlos Carrillo will be at the other guard spot and Tanner Edwards at tackle.
“We’re not the biggest line, but we’ll use good angles and positioning to get the job done,” Wood said.
Broussard said the Panthers have depth on the line with Seth Grammer, Carlos Powers, TJ Weger, Deric Connor and Channing Hamilton being able to step into roles. Jacob Posey is out with an injury, but Broussard is hopeful he is back by district.
The Panthers will need to build consistency on offense to get to their goal of making the playoffs.
Defensively in 2013, the Paradise Panthers struggled to make plays to get teams off the field.
The Panthers gave up 381 yards per game, including an average of 269 yards on the ground.
After a strong offseason, the Panthers hope to turn around their fortunes on the defensive side of the ball this year.
Paradise coach Scott Broussard believes it starts with setting the right tone.
“We’re going to be aggressive,” Broussard said. “We’ve got to have 11 hats to the ball and go from whistle to whistle.”
Paradise will have good speed on the outside with linebackers Austin Hogan and Colton Brown. Hogan is moving from his inside spot to free him up on the edge.
“I want to rush as much as possible,” Hogan said.
The job of manning the inside backer spots in the Panthers’ 3-4 will fall to Nick Loney, Hunter Anthony, Seth Grammer and Jacob Branscum.
A speedy secondary led by safeties Cash Preather and Chris Hill will help in coverage and support the run defense. Colton Wells and Kash Helton, who were competing for the quarterback job on offense, will play the corner spots. Wells, who was injured in a scrimmage, is being replaced by Luke Gage.
“We have good speed in the secondary,” Broussard said.
Up front, the Panthers will have several players rotating in, including Blake Brown, Deric Connor, Tanner Edwards, Carlos Carrilo, TJ Weger, Carlos Powers and Zach Wood.
“Up front, we’re about 225 to 235 (pounds) and move decent,” Broussard said. “Speed is something we are going to rely on.”
Wood explained the line has an important job.
“You have to man your gap so the backers can swoop in and make the tackle,” he said.
The Panthers hope those tackles come sooner this year.
PICKING UP STEAM
Austin Hogan began emerging as the Paradise Panthers’ leading threat in the backfield at the end of 2013. Here’s a look at his final three games of last season.
Callisburg: 17-110 yards
Boyd: 6-18 yards