After earning the No. 1 seed in the North Coast Section Division I playoffs last season, the Antioch Panthers appeared to have their second opportunity at taking home the crown.
However, a slow-sailing field goal in double overtime saw No. 8 Vintage upset top-seeded Antioch 24-21.
“That’s all they talk about,” said head coach John Lucido. “They took the team a little lightly. They understand that. Lucky, all those guys are young and they know what not to do now.”
Junior quarterback Rocco Borelli will be handed the rock. Last season, three-year veteran Willem Karnthong spent some time on the shelf with multiple injuries and illness. Thus, Borelli carries experience this season.
“He’s improved so much,” said Lucido. “He is a very talented young man. We changed our passing system a little bit and he’s picked it up fast. He has a strong arm.”
The running back duo of seniors Jaysn Wade and Dwight Turner lit up the backfield and both will be key in orchestrating offensive production. The duo combined for a total of 1,265 rushing yards in 2018. Wade battled the year with a thigh injury, but managed to secure an offer from Georgetown University. The size up front of Antioch will serve important with 6-foot-2 inch senior Kwamayne Sims and 6-foot-7-inch junior Jailen Weaver. Gaston Dorsey is also a good interior body.
The wide receiver core will see Wade and Turner line up in the slot. University of California, Berkeley commit Dejuan Butler adds plenty of speed at receiver.
Lucido, like many coaches, will be using his players on both sides of the ball. The Panthers transitioned to using a 3-3 stack formation this year.
“We have so many talented athletes and want to use as much of them as we can,” said Lucido.
Sims, Weaver and Dorsey will be running the gauntlet, playing defensive line as well. Linebackers Raider Vreonis and Oggo Delaney will anchor that position. Delaney saw significant playing time while Vreonis was called up to the varsity team in the playoffs and ended up starting for the Panthers.
Borelli will use his 6-foot 1-inch frame to his team’s advantage by seeing some time on defense, too. Donavan Fells is also one of Antioch’s key skill players. He will be playing defensive back while Wade will play on both sides of the field.
Butler settles in nicely at cornerback, the position he is being recruited for at Cal.
Antioch has improved steadily over the years. After making the playoffs in 2014 for the first time in a while, the Panthers have not missed the playoffs and had a division I championship appearance.
Lucido has scheduled an East Bay Athletic League heavy non-league schedule involving California, San Ramon Valley and Amador Valley, along with Marin Catholic.