Panthers start Football Camp
A Look Back To The Past
Panthers hire football coach
Published on Times News Online ( http://www.tnonline.com )
By TJ ENGLE firstname.lastname@example.org
Lon Hazlet had coached almost every single classification of high school football in the state of Pennsylvania.
The Panther Valley School Board gave Hazlet the chance make his resume complete when it hired him last Thursday as the program's new head coach.
Prior to taking the job with the Class A Panthers, Hazlet had coached at Class AAAA DuBois, Class AAA Pittston Area and Class AA Karns City. In addition, he has coached at the Division II and Division III college level.
In a press conference yesterday, Hazlet admitted that it wasn't the level that mattered most to him. Rather, it was that special feeling he felt within Panther Valley School District.
"Ever since I left Karns City, I have been sort of looking for a place to get back to that type of situation," said Hazlet of coaching high school football. "You miss it. You really do. We had a couple of other opportunities, but this is the place we chose to come. I was very impressed with the people here. The administration as well as the school board.
"What level of ball doesn't really make any difference to me, I just wanted to go someplace where I could make a difference in the lives of young men."
Prior to a press conference, Hazlet met with approximately 100 high school and middle school aged boys who make up the Panther football program.
According to Panther Valley High School Principal Joe Gunnels, Hazlet made a good first impression with the individuals.
"Our kids are really excited," Gunnels said. "The kids were coming up to me in the hall afterwards and were saying, 'Good pick. He's a great guy.'
"They're very excited and ready to get going."
Hazlet feels he got a lot of positive feedback out of his first official team meeting with the players too.
"Like I told them, 'Right now, all I have for them is words,'" Hazlet said of the first team meeting. "We have to earn each other's respect. They have to see me work and I have to see them work.
"What we say right now won't matter that much it will be about who shows up and puts in the time and does the work in the off-season. There's no second-place for work ethic."
Instead of waiting for opening day of summer practice, Hazlet is focused on getting the point across to his players that "champions are made in the off-season."
While there's some time 178 days to be exact till Hazlet drapes a whistle around his neck and grasp a clipboard for his first official practice, he talked about carrying out "Operation Big Cat," his creative name for the off-season work-out schedule, starting this Saturday.
"I'm just going to come in here and work hard," Hazlet said. "They're going to see the way I work. We're going to put in a lot of time and we're going to do a lot of work. You have to earn people's respect. It's not something that is handed to you.
While he plans to initiate a 3-3-5 "attack" stack formation on defense, Hazlet isn't quite ready to unveil his offensive strategy yet.
"I have a vision for what I would like, but I have been at this long enough to know that I'm not going to put this vision out there without evaluating the kids first," Hazlet said. "We're going to be a tempo team. We're going to run at three speeds. We're going to play fast, faster and fastest. We'll be a no huddle team. We'll signal everything in from the sidelines.
"But, the main thing I want to do is spend as much time with these boys as I can in the Spring. We will evaluate them, so I can put us in the best position to be successful."
In addition to that, he introduced his other strategical game plan, which he calls "The Panther Way."
"I believe in tough love, which is a discipline and focus on academics," Hazlet said. "I think it's very important that we not only try to turn them into better football players, but yet better young men. That's a vision I shared with these young guys.
"We're going to be living a clean life, be good students and most importantly bust our tails to be good, young men."
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