HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — As we gear up for the high school football season, News 19 will be previewing more than 40 of our Tennessee Valley programs in On the Road with Olivia and Claudia.
Episode five features the Huntsville Panthers and Grissom Tigers.
The Panthers are coming off of a few seasons they’d probably like to forget, going just 4-16 the past two years.
“To go in the locker room and remember that feeling and I think these guys took that going into spring practice and I think having that memory of your close but you didn’t get it done and you got to get it done. I’m excited, I want to see what we can do,” Huntsville football head coach Mark Fleetwood said.
Now with a year under their belt for a lot of these guys, head coach Mark Fleetwood is feeling good with what they’re bringing back.
“Up front defensively, we’re going to be much improved team just because of the year experience and offensively also up front. I think for the first time that I’ve been here that on both sides we’ve got a little bit of depth on our line so that’s encouraging because in football, winning the line of scrimmage is a big deal,” Fleetwood added.
After back-to-back losing seasons, Fleetwood says there’s a good energy among this group, something they’ve felt this entire offseason, and are ready to carry that into kickoff.
“Lot different energy in the offseason with the weightlifting and with the running and the conditioning and then right into the summer. You can just see it’s a different pace,” Fleetwood said.
Now we head over to Grissom High School and it’s year two for head coach Rich Dutton. He went just 3-7 in his first year with the Tigers but is pleased with the way his team has progressed since then.
“Just going into ballgames and expecting to perform like they’re performing right now. Just seeing them understand that they have a chance in every ballgame and doing all we can as coaches to help them get there,” Dutton said.
He says this year the team has bought in and has strong chemistry within the locker room.
“They’re fun, they’re here, they have energy, offensive line, defensive line is the same, the coaches have done an amazing job. I like the chemistry the whole team has. Sometimes you don’t like people in your own house so they’ve done a good job of getting behind each other,” Dutton added.
After missing the playoffs last year, the Tigers are ready to move past that and are fully focused on this season.
“Just understanding who we are and taking ourselves to that kickoff moment without a mindset of what’s happened in the past and having a fresh attitude of what we can do,” Dutton said.
Grissom will open against Russellville in week zero while Huntsville has a bye and will host Oxford on August 26.