It couldn’t have been easy to be the Parkway Panthers in recent years. From 2001 to 2006, the Panthers won just 10 football games, while Midwest Athletic Conference rivals St. Henry, Marion
Local, Coldwater, Versailles, and Delphos St. John’s all brought home state titles. Last year the Panthers went 8-2 and are looking to start a new trend.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
WR/DB Josh Fisher (6-0, 170, sr.), LB/RB Reese Boroff (6-1, 185, sr.), OL Jordan Henkle (5-8, 225, jr.), OL Jason Ford (6-2, 210, soph), OL Andrew Peele (5-9, 200, jr.), OL Cole Frank (5-8, 225, jr.), OL Ryan Fisher (6-2, 250, sr.), DL Joe Denlinger (5-8, 165, sr.)
2007 record: 8-2
It couldn’t have been easy to be the Parkway Panthers in recent years.
From 2001 to 2006, the Panthers won just 10 football games. Meanwhile, they watched Midwest Athletic Conference rivals St. Henry, Marion Local, Coldwater, Versailles, and Delphos St. John’s all bring home at least one state championship trophy.
Given the fact that the MAC has schools with more football state championships than Parkway has playoff berths (one), it would have been understandable if the Panthers lost hope of competing with the conference powers. But the 2007 Parkway squad made that hope come alive, putting together an 8-2 season, narrowly missing a playoff appearance and only losing games to Division IV champion Coldwater and Division V champion Marion Local.
“I thought it was a fantastic year not only in record, but also in the way that the guys here began to think about themselves, the way they prepared themselves physically and mentally,” head coach Ed Kuhn said. “It was just great to see a great group of guys that worked hard and really committed themselves to making Parkway football a success, and to see it in wins and losses as well.”
Kuhn is a recent addition to Parkway football, and his teams have shown major progress over a short period of time.
“I felt this year was a great step forward,” he said. “My first year here, we made strides in being competitive, and then this next year, not only were we competitive but we were able to finish games by winning them as well, so it’s a good progression for us.”
2007’s success might be only the beginning for Parkway football, as Kuhn says the positive results have carried over into the offseason.
“You can tell the guys that really began to feel the success that we’ve had this year, they look at themselves differently, and they commit themselves in the weight room,” he said. “They commit themselves to being not only good in the weight room but in the classroom and other areas of their lives, so you can see how it’s had an effect on those members of the team.”
This year’s team returns six starters on offense and four on defense. The majority of those starters can be found in the trenches.
“We return our O-Line intact,” Kuhn said. “We return one or two skill people, but our O-Line, we’re really looking at that to be one of our strengths this year. We have two- or three-year starters that are returning again, so that’s exciting for us. That hasn’t happened around here for a long time, to return that type of a crew on the O-Line. That’s an excitement, that’s a real plus that we know we have.
“We know we do lose a lot of quality players, which you do every year. That’s part of high school football. But we’re excited about our possibilities.”
The Panthers will be looking to continue to take steps in the right direction over the summer and into the start of the season.
“I think we’re really going to make an effort at being aggressive and trying to take that next step of becoming a physical football team,” Kuhn said. “Play smart, but play physical as well. That’s kind of what our goal is going into summer training.
“We want to make sure that we gel. We graduated some skill people, and those skill people worked well together. We really have to kind of come together at the skill positions, learning how to react to one another offensively and defensively, and really some of the younger guys filling the roles in those the skill spots.”
Chances are that in most conferences, Parkway would have been a conference champion in 2007 with a possible playoff berth and a favorite to do the same this year as well. But in order to make the next big step and reach the postseason for the first time since 1999, Parkway must survive the most rugged conference in Divisions IV, V, and VI, if not all of Ohio high school football.
Kuhn, understandably, doesn’t like to look too far into the future given what lies in front of him in the MAC.
“The way I kind of approach the game and kind of my life too is I try not to look too far ahead, because you get overwhelmed that way, especially in the MAC,” he said. “I just kind of take one day at a time and one week at a time, but with that said, I know that there’s a lot of good football teams that we’ll play on Friday. Our schedule is full of good football teams… great football teams.”
Time will tell if Parkway can take the next step this season, but regardless of what happens, there is a new level of excitement surrounding this football program.
“Anywhere I go and I see community members, they’re not only congratulating the team on its success, but they’re quickly asking questions about next year and wanting to know the buzz for next year as well,” Kuhn said. “So it has created a positive buzz around the community.”
8/22 @ CRESTVIEW (CONVOY)
8/29 WAYNE TRACE (HAVILAND)
9/5 @ MARION LOCAL (MARIA STEIN)
9/19 FORT RECOVERY
9/26 @ COLDWATER
10/4 @ ST JOHN’S (DELPHOS)
10/17 @ NEW BREMEN