Mart’s streak of winning seasons is an astounding one; the last losing season the Panthers endured was the 2002 season. Not even the departure of Rusty Nail, one of the top coaches hindered Mart. The Panthers won a pair of playoff games; the first under head coach Kevin Hoffman. With the return of several skilled players, Mart is viewed as the favorites to take home the hardware in 2017.
Mart’s non-district schedule last season featured several close games against quality teams, including a 26-13 win over West, a 28-21 victory over McGregor, and not to be overlooked, a 22-20 nailbiter against a strong Lexington team in the season opener.
Mart blazed through 8-2A DI competition, scoring an average of 50 points per game; Bosqueville did however play the Panthers close in the season finale, but Mart claimed the district title with a 28-21 win.
Mart rolled over Hico 47-14, then tallied a 49-8 thumping of Seymour, but the Panthers season came to an end against regional foe Crawford with a 27-20 loss.
TE Terrell Horne, DT Tyree Williams, CB Nathan Skinner
Chief among graduation losses suffered by Mart are those on the defensive unit. Williams and Skinner earned first team all-district honors last season; Williams racked up 88 tackles and five sacks, Skinner recorded 37 tackles and a pair of interceptions. Horne also earned first team all-district honors at the tight end position, tallying 691 yards of total offense with eight touchdowns.
QB Jace Terry, RB Tyrek Horne, LB Cooper Baize
Terry, the reigning district Player of the Year, returns to guide the offense; the dual threat start racked up 1,406 yards passing, 941 yards rushing and 31 total touchdowns. Horne also returns to form a potent backfield duo, he rushed for 1,322 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2016 en route to the district offensive MVP title. Baize earned second team all-state honors as a junior last season, having collected 150 tackles and four sacks.
This may be one of the more powerful and dynamic groups to come out of Mart in recent memory, several key members return with impressive stat books and a slew of all\-district and all-state accolades. As is usually the case with small schools, Mart’s schedule remains the same, which means a date with Lexington once again in the season opener; the 3A DII Eagles enter the season with a place in the AP preseason poll, as well as 16 total returning starters, it’s going to be quite the test for the Panthers.
District should be competitive as well, every other team returns six starters on offense and about half their starters on defense from 2016.
Mart’s offense returns plenty of weapons, but the defense may experience some growing pains. If they get additional strength on that unit in time for district play, watch out.
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