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A positive spin
Panthers coach Bob LeCours doesn't consider youth a deterrent to success.
By BRIAN SUMERS
Published August 25, 2006
[Times photo: M.N. Golden]
Sophomore quarterback Mike Scales, here at practice, will be starting for Lecanto High.
LECANTO - Negativity does not register with Bob LeCours.
The third-year coach lost 14 key seniors from last year's team, but he refuses to dwell on their absence.
"The day I become negative," the Panthers coach said recently from his sparsely decorated office, "is the day I give up."
This is a new team, and he promises it will compete. Somehow.
"We are going to build some tradition here," he said. "We are getting there. Not as soon as we might like."
It won't be easy.
The Panthers finished 3-7 last season - even with their senior leadership. And the team, which opened by winning three of five, lumbered to five consecutive losses to finish the season.
It seems unlikely this year's team will win more. But the always-positive coach said he believes it is possible.
LeCours, 44, said his team's attitude has improved in the offseason because the hunger of the underclassmen dominated squad.
And instead of calling his team "inexperienced," he prefers the euphemism "unproven."
"I hate to use the term rebuild," he said.
Not surprisingly, he refuses to dwell on losing the seniors.
"That's the joy of high school," he said. "We can't sign them to long-term contracts."
Instead, he'll continue developing new players.
LeCours said he expects sophomore tight end/defensive end Denver Carpenter and junior guard/defensive tackle Nick Kaufman to lead the new-look Panthers.
They are young, but the pair has talent - and size.
Carpenter is 6 feet 4, 240 pounds and, according to the LeCours, can run a mile in less than six minutes.
Kaufman, who started playing for the varsity as a freshman, stands 6 feet 1 and weighs 210 pounds.
Kaufman played little his freshman season, but blossomed into a starter last year. Now as a third-year player, Kaufman is part of the first class that greeted LeCours when he took the Lecanto job.
Not much has changed since LeCours arrived.
That's just the way the coach planned it. The Wing-T remains his offensive game plan. And on defense, the Panthers will show mostly eight-man fronts.
"When you're building a program, you have to be consistent with your philosophy," LeCours said.
Though he is fond of his young leaders, LeCours acknowledges this might not be an easy season.
That why he developed this season's team slogan:
"Accept the challenge."
By following the bountiful energy of their head coach, the Panthers just might have a chance.
* During the football season, it's not unusual for coach Bob LeCours to leave his office at midnight and return at 6 a.m. To keep productive, LeCours sets his radio to an oldies station, and songs constantly play in the background of his windowless office. His favorite song: Beyond the Sea by Bobby Darin.
* During the past school year, junior Nate Richards told LeCours he wanted to try playing football, though he had never played in high school. As a quarterback, Richards is making the switch from baseball to football. He might even start this fall. "An athlete is an athlete," LeCours said.
* For the first time in the LeCours era, the Panthers are getting new uniforms. Though the school colors remain green and gold, look for more green than gold in this year's model. "Football styles change," LeCours said.