Countdown To Kickoff: #23 Paint Branch Panthers | News
Story by Malcolm Johnson
WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Paint Branch is coming off a successful season, having only lost to one of Maryland's best teams, Quince Orchard. The Panthers are much younger this year, especially on the offensive side of the ball. If their offense is able to match their defense's level of play, this team should pick up where they left off last season -- making the playoffs.
Record Last Season: 9-1
Biggest Question: With only three returning starters on offense, who will be the team's main contributors?
Strengths: The Panthers are strongest on the defensive side of the ball. They are returning six starters on defense including standouts Andrew Martin, Jonathan Quigley, and Thomas Lucas. Quigley is sure to be in the face masks of opposing quarterbacks at 6-foot-3, 295 pounds. They're an aggressive bunch that is fairly blitz heavy and likes to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The defense will be expected to keep the team in ball games early in the season.
Best Player: Thomas Lucas is the only Division I player on the Panthers' roster, having recently verbally committed to the University of Connecticut. He's got good feet and is able to get to whoever the ball carrier is in a hurry. His speed and soft hands are attributes that make him the anchor of the Paint Branch defense.
Breakthrough Player: Though Johnny's last name is Littlejohn, the rising junior does not play the game little at all. Littlejohn stands at 6-feet, 175 pounds. and can play almost any position on the field, getting time at quarterback, running back and wide receiver. Johnny has been starting on varsity since he was in tenth grade. Head coach Mike Nesmith knows how good Littlejohn can be: "He's a very versatile player, it's a problem. He's just a junior but he will get attention from colleges. He may be the best player on our team."
Why fans should be excited: Head coach Mike Nesmith on why fans have no need to worry about the young offense going into next season:
"We feel like we can be very good on offense eventually. We have a lot of people that can score for us that are capable of making plays and we don't have to rely on just one guy. They're a young group, but we feel we can be very good on offense eventually."