After finishing 0-7 in league play last year, the Johnston football team is looking to that winless season behind them and focus on the 2019 upcoming campaign .
“These guys have not mentioned last at all,” said Joe Acciardo, who has been the Panther head football coach since 2003. “They know they have the potential to do well. It seems like a whole different attitude. We have a lot of young guys from last year’s froshmore team that have brought momentum to this year’s varsity team - they are very close with each other. It’s a big step up for them. It’s a big undertaken for everyone to step up at one time to the varsity level. Last year we had some sophomores playing in our varsity games and they got some good experience.”
Two of those sophomores that Acciardo thinks will have a big impact on the team are Ryan Schino and Joe Acciardo Jr. “Schino has been doing very well at the linebacker position and on the offensive line Joe will be our slot receiver, he has really good hands.”
The Panthers lost about a dozen players to graduation but the numbers during summer training camp were good, ranging from 35-40 players a day.
They have only two seniors on their roster this year. “We have skilled guys all over the place,” Acciardo said.” We have a quarterback in Hunter Remington that can run and throw - he has come a log way. We have the Stubbs brothers, Deremy and Dillon in the backfield and Tom Zednick at wide receiver but the offense line is going to be the big difference, they will have to step up. It’s always the most important spot because that’s where games are won or lost. We need them to be aggressive and if they do that I think we will be alright.”
Joe Patterson will be our halfback moving side to side and everyone else is pretty much vying for a spot.”
Defensive coach Nick DeMarco left to coach at Cranston East so the whole Panther coaching will pitch in to help coach the defense. “All the coaches will have a role in coaching the defense,” Acciardo said. “ I’m going to spread the duteous out and come together as a staff and put together a defensive game plan, we will all be held accountable.”
The Panthers held a joint practice with Division 1 Cranston East last week which Acciardo said was beneficial to the team as well as a big test.
Looking at the Panthers 2019 schedule, they will play the same teams as last year. The first full game will be home versus Division 4 Exeter - West Greenwich / Prout co-op team on Sept. 13 in a non -league game. The Panthers start Division 2A play on Sept. 20 at Classical High School. Homecoming will be Oct. 12 versus Lincoln High School and they will face defending Division 2 Super Bowl champions Woonsocket on Oct. 19 at Barry Field. It should be noted that all Johnston Friday night home games will start at 6 p.m. this season.