Panthers football gear up for another winning season

COUGARS: Baldwin football players go through a conditioning drill during Tuesday’s practice. (Pioneer photo/John Raffel)

PANTHERS: Baldwin football players go through a conditioning drill during Tuesday’s practice. (Pioneer photo/John Raffel)

Baldwin football coach: ‘We’re getting things rolling’

BALDWIN — The first day of school at Baldwin on Monday also corresponded with the official opening of football practice for coach Doug Bolles and his players.

The Panthers will open their season at home on Aug. 28 against Reed City. They also have a scrimmage Aug. 20 at Holton.

Baldwin is coming off a 10-2 season in which it won conference and Division 8 district titles, before falling to Beal City in a regional final. The Panthers lost several key seniors including four-year quarterback Brandon Childress, an all-stater, is now playing at Central Michigan University.

“We’re getting things rolling,” Bolles said on Tuesday. “It’s been a little different here with school starting and having practice at the same time. Definitely, there’s a change from the leadership I had the last couple of years with Childress and that senior class last year.

“I was a little concerned (Monday) when I only had 20 kids. (Tuesday) I had 24. My numbers are a little more to where I thought it would be. The effort is there. We do have some guys back at the skill positions who I’m pretty happy with. We’re not going to have as much depth as we had last year, but we’ll be OK.”

Key players include seniors Da’Ron Copeland at quarterback and defensive back, Brandon Beane at wide receiver and outside linebacker and two-way linemen Maleke Palmer and Terrell Rogers. Also returning are sophomore running back, receiver and defensive back Blake Dockery, senior running back-linebacker Deshawn Moore and junior offensive lineman La’kie Donald.

“I have other players, but those are the guys you’ll see and hear a lot about,” Bolles said.

Bolles said Braeden and Brenton Childress, who would have been sophomores and seniors on this year’s team, have both transferred out of the district. Tyler Clugston, another key player last year as a sophomore, has decided not to play football this fall.

“Our main focus is Reed City,” Bolles said. “Everything we do from now to then will be to prepare for Reed City. (Coach Monty Price) does a great job and has a great program. We saw them last year. They’re Division 5. They’re in the playoffs year in and year out. It’s a challenge ,but the last few years, we haven’t backed down from any challenge. We’re trying to get the program in the right direction and step up our program to be like that.

“Everyone thinks because we lost Brandon and that senior class, it’s our year to be down. We have a tough schedule, but we also have some good athletes. We have a good nucleus. I believe we’ll make the playoffs again.”

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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