CORTLANDT MANOR – With only eight players coming back from last season, Panas coach Dan Patronik isn’t ready to address the specific areas of need.
“We’re young,” Patronik said Monday as conditioning drills got under way. “We’re very young. I’m looking for playmakers and leaders right now.”
There is one player who fits neatly into both categories.
Coach Dan Patronik looks on as senior Tyreek Jackson, 17, runs a drill on the first day of practice at Walter Panas High School, Aug. 18, 2014 in Cortlandt Manor.
Emeka Carranza was out in front, running with relative ease as the Panthers repeatedly sprinted back and forth across the practice field. The senior moved into the district a month ago. Carranza spent last season making the occasional big play for White Plains, and may be switching from running back to quarterback.
“He’s experienced enough to be a big help,” said junior tailback and linebacker Joe DeLuca, who is a co-captain along with senior offensive and defensive tackle Stephen Kelley.
Patronik isn’t ready to name a starter.
“Emeka’s been with us over the summer,” he said. “He’s got some athletic ability, so we’ll see where that puts him, but he’s definitely going to help us.”
It’s been a smooth transition for Carranza, who’s gotten to know a majority of his new teammates on the field and in the weight room over the last several weeks. He doesn’t believe there will be any issues adjusting to a different system, either.
Many of the schemes are familiar.
“It’s the same goal, just to excel and do what I can to help,” Carranza said. “The guys here are treating me great. Coach Patronik does some of the same things I did at White Plains. I just have to get a good relationship with all the players here, and make sure I have a good understanding of what coach wants.”