Warning: It’s probably not a good idea to keep your eyes on just one player this season.
Frankfort head coach Craig Foley suggested watching all “29 players on the roster.”
Although the Panthers’ numbers are small, it is quality over quantity for the team that finished last season 7-6 after losing in the third round of the Class 1A state playoffs to Beechwood 51-19.
“Aaron Jackson is a senior receiver,” Foley said. “Jalen Washington is going to be a kid that makes a lot of things happen. We’re expecting a lot of things out of Jalen Acree, Chris Brooks, we could keep going and going. All of our skilled kids will have the opportunity to make plays.
“We don’t have anyone standing around. They are getting plenty of reps. Are they in good shape? Yes. Are they in good enough shape? Probably not, but we’re getting there.”
Foley said he hasn’t had to do a lot of teaching this offseason with a lot of experienced kids in the system. He said he feels like “we’re ahead of where we have been.”
It’s no secret that Aaron Jackson has played a large role in Foley’s current assessment of the team.
The senior receiver currently has three scholarship offers from the likes of Navy, Eastern Kentucky and Liberty University and is expecting more as the season gets underway.
“He is the kind of receiver that is a big, tall kid that can go up and get the ball and stretch the field afterward,” Foley said. “He can make plays. He is a strong kid. He can block really well for us, so it is not like someone can say, ‘Oh Aaron is out there, they’re going to throw the ball to him.’ We use Aaron to block, just as much as we use him to catch the ball as well.”
Foley said throwing the ball to Jackson will be senior quarterback Chris Hawkins, who will start, and freshman Anthony Robinson will serve as his backup.
“(Hawkins) has done well,” Foley said. “He has taken on the leadership role well. We’ve put a lot on his shoulders. He’s pretty much stepped up to it pretty hard. There are still some things he has to do to get better, but he’s getting there.”
Foley has tried to put an emphasis on the Panthers’ throwing game this offseason, while working on strength.
“We always have a lot of speed, but we’ve got to get stronger,” he said.
They’ll need quite a bit of strength moving forward with a schedule Foley calls “horrible.”
“I hate it,” he said of the upcoming season. “It is a tough schedule, because we’re in one of these unique situations where Class 1A teams don’t play us. They don’t want to play us. We have to go up and play bigger schools.”
Their season opener on Friday against Class 2A Newport is just that.
“We open up with a 2A school and then we turn around and play another solid Rockcastle team, who is traditionally very good,” Foley said. “Then we have Green County who beat Danville in the playoffs the last two or three years, then we still have Danville on our roster. Then we have (Franklin) County, Western Hills and Lexington Christian.
“Our schedule is tough, but we got tired of going 8-2 and being soft. Now we may go 6-4, 7-3, but we play quality competition.”
But are they ready for such an intense schedule?
“I don’t ever feel like we’re ready, but no coach ever does,” Foley said. “It is just one of those things, we’ll go out and see what we got.”
Center McKinley Stonewall “has a nagging knee injury from baseball and caused us a little problem, but gets checked out this week,” Foley said.