One word says it all about Orange’s upcoming football season: “Ka-pluc-uh.” That’s how it’s outlined on the back of the Panthers’ T-shirts, straight from the mind of defensive coordinator Van Smith.
“It’s something the coaches thought of years ago when we were at Graham,” said Smith. “That’s what we hear whenever somebody makes a good hit. Heck, we might have invented it.”
If head coach Pat Moser was more sentimental, he might have chosen “The Last Rodeo” for the motto. For him, it will be.
Entering his eighth year as head coach of the Panthers, Moser says the upcoming campaign will be his last.
His youngest son, Gray, will graduate next June from Orange. Moser has counted how many sick days he’s accumulated down to the minute. The date of his last day as a teacher just rolls off his tongue: June 30, 2017.
On that day, Orange will lose a coach who hasn’t merely won as much as transformed the program. The Panthers went without a winning season from 1993-2007. Since 2012, they’ve gone 47-9.
Who will they miss the most?
The biggest name missing is Bryse Wilson, Mr. All-Everything in football, who is so multi-talented he’s signed a MLB contract with the Atlanta Braves. Wilson played at quarterback, running back (gaining 1,000 yards), receiver, linebacker, punter – and blocked kicks with regularity.
Who better than his younger brother to fill his shoes? Junior Payton Wilson (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) already has received offers from N.C. State, Wake Forest, Appalachian State, and East Carolina. Like his brother, the younger Wilson’s primary position is outside linebacker in Smith’s 3-3-5 stack defense, but Moser will likely use him in a skill position like wide receiver, as well.
What’s the good news?
Even with the departures of Wilson and Drew Lemaster, the defense may be the deepest Moser has had in his tenure.
Wilson, Jordan Farrington, and Northern Durham transfer Devondrez Moore make up the linebacker corps. Stone Edwards and Ryan Sellers return as defensive ends.
And even without Wilson, the Panthers have three experienced running backs returning: Jettison Satterfield (nephew of Appalachian State head coach Scott Satterfield), Alex Long, and Farrington. And they’ve also got all-conference quarterback Jackson Schmid back for his senior year.
“I think we’ll have a very good team,” said Moser.
More on the Panthers
Last year: 12-1* (6-0* Big-8 3A), second round 3AA playoffs
Five year average: 11-2 (5-1)
Preseason N&O rank: No.17
Offense: Double Wing
Defense: 3-3-5 Stack
Coaches: Pat Moser (HC/OC/QBs), Van Smith (DC), Brian Patton (RBs), J.J. Callahan (WRs), Steven Mullis (OL), Eric Stephens (OL), Phil Hines (LBs), Eric Villines (DL), Devonte Pettiford (DL), Jamie Baily (DBs)
Contributors: Jackson Schmid (Sr., QB); Alex Long (Sr., RB/DB); Jordan Farrington (Sr., RB/LB); Stone Edwards (Sr., DE); Devondrez Moore (Sr. transfer, LB); Ryan Sellers (Jr., DE); Payton Wilson (Jr., MLB, WR); Eli Haithcock (Jr., DB); Jettison ‘Jet’ Satterfield (Soph., FB/LB), Francisco McKinley (Soph., PK).
The main number: 1 - the number of games Orange has lost over the last three years to a team not named Southern Durham.
*-includes a forfeit by Southern Durham.
Aug. 19 at Person, 7 p.m.
Aug. 26 at Northern Durham, 7 p.m.
Sep. 2 vs. Riverside, 7 p.m.
Sep. 9 at Cummings, 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 16 vs. Western Guilford, 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 23* at Southern Durham, 7 p.m.
Sep. 30* vs. Northwood, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7* at Northern Vance, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14* at Cedar Ridge, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 vs. Chapel Hill, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28* vs. J.F. Webb, 7 p.m.
Nov. 4* BYE
Note: *Conference game.