Pigskin Preview: Fort Stockton Panthers

Fort Stockton will lean on its run game, while replacing almost the entire defense off of a 10-win team.
Published: Aug. 2, 2023 at 7:06 PM CDT
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FORT STOCKTON, Texas (KOSA) - Fort Stockton had one of the area’s best defenses in 2022. The Panthers gave up just 10 points per game in their 10 wins. However, only two starters are back from that defense.

“That’s when coaching comes into play,” second year head coach Jeremy Hickman said. “You see what the kids can do and develop your scheme based on their strengths. It’s going to be a lot of fun rebuilding our defense this year.”

“We need other people to step in and fill those spots,” senior safety Isaiah Velasquez said. “It’s going to be hard. Last year, those seniors were leaders. I have confidence in the young guys coming up. Hopefully our defense will be better than ever.”

Returning defensive tackle Xzavaier Dominguez expects the defense to be like last year.

“Linebackers always getting tackles, making plays. The front doing their jobs, making plays as well.”

Marco Garcia returns at quarterback, and is a threat throwing (1,557 yards, 19 TD) and running (580 yards, 5 TD).

“I’ve got to score every time we get the ball, that’s my job,” Garcia said. “I have to help the defense out. If they get a stop and we get the ball, we have to score.”

“He runs track,” Hickman added. “He’s a state champion in the 1600-meter relay. So I’m excited to see what he does this year.”

The Panthers are waiting for a new group of receivers to emerge. In the meantime, they can hand the ball off to Velasquez and 1000-yard rusher Corbin Luna.

“Luna is one of the top running backs in West Texas,” Hickman said. “The kid’s a very strong runner. He’s explosive. And then Velasquez is tough. He’s got great vision.”

“Me and Corbin together, I feel like we’re unstoppable,” Velasquez said.

Hickman spent his first full offseason at his alma mater preaching resilience.

“We’re trying to find members of the ‘Four Quarter Fight Club’,” Hickman said. “I’m expecting us to be tougher, and I’m expecting us to compete harder. I’m expecting us to never quit and just fight until the very end.”