Returning players and coaches at Parish Episcopal still vividly remember their state semifinal loss to rival Bishop Dunne last season.
The narrow defeat showed the Panthers how far they’ve come, just three years after jumping to the most competitive TAPPS classification. But the sting also lingers from coming so close.
“They got a chance to experience what it was like to play big-time football into December,” said Parish head coach Daniel Novakov. “The kids started to get accustomed to the style of play and what it takes to compete at that level.”
Parish has not only the motivation but also the talent to contend again. It starts with decorated dual-threat quarterback Preston Stone, who threw for more than 3,500 yards and 44 touchdowns and also ran for nine scores as a sophomore.
The dynamic offense features a backfield triumvirate of Cauren Lynch (also a big-time recruit), Christian Benson (cousin of former NFL standout Cedric Benson), and Kaleb Culp (a two-way all-district player). Each averaged more than 7 yards per carry and scored multiple touchdowns.
The Panthers must replace most of their production at receiver where returnees Jai Moore and Foster Malloy will join transfers Evan Green from Flower Mound Marcus and Gabriel Walls from Frisco Heritage.
Novakov is especially excited about Parish’s resurgent defense. It has depth and experience including linemen Noah Richards, Josue Munoz, A.J. Overton, and Isaiah Overton; linebacker Keegon Addison; and defensive backs Culp, Noah Richards, and Luke Bridges. Top transfers include Blake Burris (Irving MacArthur) and Kenneth Borders (ESD).