Deep playoff runs are becoming the norm for the Palmyra football team. The Panthers reached the Class 3 state semifinals last season, marking the third straight season they had made it to the quarterfinals or beyond. Heavy graduation losses don’t seem to impact a program built to reload and expected to make another postseason push.
Here’s what Palmyra coach Kevin Miles had to say about his team:
“We tell them every day that it’s a process, it’s a journey. We just told them in the locker room that we’re not going to win a state championship Week 1 against Macon. Whether we win or lose, it doesn’t define our season. We’ve proven that. A couple of years ago, we finished the regular season 5-4 and made it to the state semifinals because we started clicking at the right time of the year.
“That’s what we tell them about. That’s the tradition we’ve set. One game doesn’t define your season. One play doesn’t define your game. You just continue and you play hard, and if you make a mistake, you get better on the next play. We’ve been good at getting better on the next play and pushing forward.
“Last year, we graduated 17 seniors, which meant graduating 10 starters on both sides of the ball. This year, we bring in 17 seniors and we’re going to start 10 or 11 on both sides of the ball. When we were running offense and defense in practice last year, these guys were on the other side working together as a team to try to stop the team that made it to the state semifinals. So they were getting experience. So their experience level is amazing.
“From top to bottom, this is the most competitive group I’ve had since I’ve been here. It’s probably the meanest group I’ve had. I don’t mean they’re mean in a bad way. But you have to have a little bit of that grittiness. This group has that. The competitiveness and inner aggressiveness are going to help them be successful.
“It’s a strong group, and they’ve worked hard in the weight room. We’ve had groups that always have done that. We have nice skill players to work with, too. Top to bottom, this is probably going to be the biggest offensive line we’ve had in a while. We’re going to average 250 (pounds) across the front. We have good size and good speed, and they’re a strong group of young men. It’s fun to be around groups of young men who have that, and then they have that grittiness to get after it.”