Panther fans will become familiar with the name Chandler this season.
Junior running back Chandler Marquardt ran wild in Thursday's hour-long scrimmage, while sophomore receiver Hunter Chandler collected 9 receptions for 201 receiving yards and junior slot back Chandler Jones came up with 3 spectacular leaping catches.
Of course, the Chandler's have plenty of company to help them find space, starting with senior quarterback Michael Kramer and senior linemen Jason Hammons and Nate Hills.
Working with both the first and second team offenses, Kramer completed 24-of-37 pass attempts for 417 yards and 3 touchdowns with 1 interception. The Panthers' senior quarterback connected on 4-of-7 passes for 75 yards while working with the second team offense, including 3 completions to wide-out Conner Lindsey, who used his height to find openings in the first team defense while compiling 60 yards.
“I think it sped his clock up,” said Heber Coach Steve Janski when asked about Kramer's precision with the second team. “He knew the protection wasn't going to be as good and I thought they moved the ball pretty well for a second group against the first team defense.”
Hunter Chandler burned the second team defense on a fly pattern for an 80-yard touchdown and also scored from 15 yards out when Kramer escaped pressure, rolled left and found the dynamic sophomore in the end zone between two defenders.
The senior quarterback and sophomore receiver seem to have already developed good chemistry. “There is a lot of trust there,” said Janski. “Michael knows Hunter is extremely athletic and can go up and grab that football. To me it looks like Hunter playing basketball on the football field. He is going up there and rebounding and making plays. He had some drops tonight and some other guys had some drops but I think Michael knows that when it's time for a big ball or a big-time play it seems like Hunter is starting to develop into that.”
Although the Panthers possess a truck load of talent at receiver, the key to this season could be Marquardt, who brings speed and power to the field. Despite a quick whistle, Marquardt rushed for 186 yards and 6 touchdowns on 10 carries against the second team defense.
Chandler Jones, who could also see some time at tailback in the Panthers' fast-paced one-back no-huddle offense, showed good hands while finishing with 4 receptions for 62 yards and senior receiver Dylan Bly added an 18-yard touchdown catch in which he spun away from a defender to complete the score.
Senior defensive end Cody Bernhardt, who had to sit out his junior season due to a medical issue, came up big for the defense, collecting a sack while pressuring Kramer on numerous occasions.
Considering Heber's schedule is loaded with run-based, power offenses, it was hard for the first team defense to get a look at what they will be facing throughout the majority of the season.
Page 2 of 2 - “That is the problem. I'd say the one team we are going to face that is close to us would be Harding [Academy]. They are fast-paced and try to throw it around a little bit, but definitely not Pottsville, Stuttgart, Lonoke and teams like that. That's why the pace of our offense will somewhat be a weapon for us,” added Janski.
On the first snap of the scrimmage, junior backup linebacker Alldon Skelton stepped in front of Kramer's pass over the middle for an interception. Janski immediately called a timeout and lit a fire under the offense.
The first play likely didn't help Janski's assessment of the scrimmage. “I grade myself a D minus. I was too high strung for this. I grade the team a C plus and I really appreciate Bryant Derrick and Kenny Sanders. They came out and volunteered their time as officials and next week we are going to have another with five officials.”
With some inexperienced players mixed with 9 returning starters, Janski said it's critical for the team to
play under the lights this preseason. “The procedure stuff kinda got us tonight. I didn't think we threw and caught as well as we have in practice but I think that is because of the lights and the atmosphere. So that's why with this young group we have we are going to come back and continue to put the lights on, hopefully have people out here show up like we did tonight so we can get used to it. We can really throw and catch a lot better than we did tonight,” added Janski.
Following hosting Greenbrier for a preseason scrimmage on Monday, Aug. 26, the Panthers open the regular season at Pottsville on Friday, Sept. 6.