Panthers eyeing playoff return


The Johnston football team got back to work this week at practice and is looking to return to the playoffs once again.

The Panthers reached the Division III Super Bowl in the spring of 2021 and then would advance to the semifinals last fall. Now, Johnston will have a few holes to fill as it has since graduated quarterback Hunter Remington, receiver Joey Acciardo and linebacker Ryan Schino.

As for the quarterback position, head coach Joe Acciardo has left it an open competition this summer and is looking forward to seeing which youngsters step up as the roster only includes seven seniors.

“We are in no rush to make that determination because they have made such great strides. The more they compete, the better off they are,” said Coach Acciardo. “We are going to expect a lot out of Steve (Finegan), we need to get back to running the ball and he runs with speed and he runs with power. Dylan Martins is a guy that we can rely on at the receiver spot, nyar is another receiver that is super athletic.”

“I’m really excited. We’ve been a passing offense in the last two seasons so I’m really looking forward to getting able to run it more,” said Finegan, who enjoyed a breakout year last fall as the team’s lead back. “(Having younger guys stepping up) benefits us as well because we get more breaks. We were out there all the time, offense, defense, special teams, but having a break once in a while is good for the team.”

Noah Lavergne is set to lead the way on defense and is also looking forward to the opportunity to make an impact and help guide the team on a playoff push.

“You lose seniors every year but fortunately we have a lot of depth this year which we are looking forward to. We just need people to know their assignments,” Lavergne said. “We want to keep that up and get back to the playoffs, we want to do that every year. We want to set an example for the young kids so when it is their time, they’ll be ready to go.”

As Johnston continues to fill out its lineup, Coach Acciardo will continue to set the bar high for the young players and hopes that the past two seasons will motivate the returners.

“We want to keep the competition up. We want those guys that are not starters to be fired up, and you always need back ups,” Coach Acciardo said. “If you’re a junior or a senior, you want to get back. You felt that electricity and you want to get back to that stuff. It’s good for the program, the numbers are getting back up.”


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