If the O’Fallon Panthers are to make a return to the top of the Southwestern Conference in 2015, it will be with a partially returned core, some younger players fighting for playing time, and a handful of talented transfer students.
Klayton Gettis, who paired a team-high 425 yards of total offense with seven takeaways on defense, was lost to a military transfer and quarterback Camden Bauer elected to sit out his senior season.
Returning to a team that finished last season 4-5, however, are leading rusher and Illinois recruit Kentrail Moran (94 carries for 342 yards) and future Missouri kicker Tucker McCann (11 field goals), who broke the state record with a 60-yard field goal last fall.
Christian Perez, a transfer from St. Louis University High School will step in at quarterback. Perez saw limited action last season as a freshman at SLUH, but completed 5-of-12 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns.
Returning at receiver are Dillon Weiss (9 catches, 144 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Darryl Cobb (8 catches for 76 yards). Deion Norfleet, a transfer from MacArthur High School in Decatur, brings some depth. He caught six passes for 98 yards as a sophomore.
Senior Tanner Wagner and junior Mason Hewitt add depth in the backfield.
Senior Sam Kabureck (6-1, 230 pounds) and junior Malik Giddens (6-2, 250 pounds) are the only two returning offensive linemen.
Senior Stephen Mills (20 tackles, 1 sack) and Kabureck (24 tackles) will anchor the defensive line. Senior AJ Paul-Torres, who had a team-high three quarterback sacks last season, will be a starter at linebacker, as will Hewitt (10 tackles, one sack).
At cornerback will be Montavis Hart (6 tackles) and Logan McClellan, who got two tackles in limited time last season at SLUH.
Weiss (62 tackles, four interceptions) and senior Jordan Johnson (52 tackles, two sacks,) will be the starting safties.
— Todd Eschman
at Hinsdale Central
at Benet Academy
at Belleville West
at Belleville East
at East St. Louis
East St. Louis
at Belleville West