On a warm spring evening, French Camp concluded spring football practice with a blue and white scrimmage.
“I was well pleased,” coach Nathan Wright said. “We have a lot of potential. Right now we are not there, but we have the puzzle pieces to be a good team.”
The Panthers are coming off a 7-5 season, good for third place in Region 3-1A and a spot in the MHSAA Class 1A State Football Playoffs.
One major piece of the puzzle is quarterback, due to the graduation of Holman Edwards. He accounted for 64 percent of the team's offense last fall, running and throwing for 1,889 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Wright feels that C.J. Johnson will fill the void. As a sophomore last year, he did a little bit of everything, running 10 times for 139 yards, catching 32 passes for 369 yards, returning five kicks for 112 yards and making 35 tackles.
“C.J. is exceptionally smart,” Wright said. “He's very gifted in terms of running the ball. Because he is so gifted there, he is prone to take off quickly, so we have to work on his pocket presence.”
Johnson quarterbacked the blue team in the scrimmage. Wright was also pleased with the play of white team quarterback Cody Perry, who will be a sophomore in the fall.
For the record, the blue team won. “We weren't doing it by football scores. We were counting by ones,” Wright said. “Blue won 5-2.”
The coach was pleased with the play of some of his veterans, including Bradley Edwards, Logan Campbell and Seth Box, as well as some of the newcomers. Adlai Urbina, a middle distance runner on the track team, played well at safety and Wesley Prewitt had a solid scrimmage at tight end and outside linebacker. “He's a pleasant surprise,” Wright said of Prewitt.
Urbina and Prewitt are rising seniors.
How well the Panthers do in the fall will be greatly influenced by their summer work. “We have to get in the weight room, get some conditioning, play seven on seven,” Wright said. “That's going to be a big difference maker for us.”
French Camp will move to Region 2, which is a move from South state to North State. Joining the Panthers in Region 2 are defending state champion Nanih Waiya, Hamilton, Noxapater, Okolona, Smithville, Tupelo Christian, Vardaman and West Lowndes.