IOWA FALLS – Days from leaving for their opening game for the 2017 Panthers, ECC Head Football Coach Jesse Montalto took time to reflect on what this season will bring for Ellsworth Community College football.
The offense for Ellsworth will be a young group, with only four returning from last year, but they won't be short on talent. In the backfield at running back the Panthers return Tekendrick Roberson (Winter Haven, FL) and Ethan Barnett (17). Last season this duo combined for more than 1,000 yards.
At the quarterback position the Panthers return Paris Chambers (Mobile, AL) and Jake Schuman (Reinbeck, IA). Chambers had a strong finish to last season and was named Graphic Edge Bowl MVP. Schuman redshirted last year. These two are battling for the starting quarterback position at this point.
Wide receiver Ben Rooney (Donnellson, IA) returns for his second season with the Panthers. He had 15 catches last year, for 172 yards and 1 touchdown.
At the offensive line the Panthers will field many new faces and look to form a cohesive group this season to protect the Panther skill players.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Panthers have quite a few returners who will help lead them to some wins. The defensive line is bringing in an extremely talented group of guys including Teair Tart-Spencer (Philadelphia, PA), Demetrius Caddell (Waterloo, IA) and several others.
The linebackers for this year have a great core that includes Javonte Arius (Winter Haven, FL) and Deanjelo Anderson (Prichard, AL), who both saw significant play last year. Arius had 73 tackles last season as well as 1 interception. Anderson had 65 tackles and 1 sack last year.
Elijah Jones (Fort Myers, FL) returns at the defensive back position. Jones had 11 solo tackles and 3 interceptions last season. He had a great season last year and looks to expand on that this season. Newcomer Naeem Smith (Iowa City, IA) will look to be a secondary at this position as a true freshman. Joshua Belle (Palm Coast, FL) looks to make a meaningful impact this season along with CJ Burress (Sugar Hill, GA) and returner Brandon Doyle (Donnellson, IA).
Going into the season, the Panthers have some unknowns about how they will size up compared to their competition. With a new rule passed in Kansas, some of the teams the Panthers come up against will be able to field unlimited out-of-state players.
"We can only work on what we are doing and have control over, and that's our guys," commented Coach Montalto. "This is as talented of a group as we have had, and I'm confident with our kids. If we play the game we can we will have success week in and week out."
The Panthers had some coaching changes this season with new Assistant Coaches Charles Alexander and Dymon Adams joining the staff. "Both of these guys have been great additions to our staff," says Montalto. "Dymon has a lot of passion on the field and also for ECC since he played here. Charles is a well-rounded coach and brings a ton of knowledge to the program with him. He is a positive influence here and the kids are excited to play for him."
The Panthers will open the season on Thursday, Aug. 24, on the road against Garden City Community College with kick-off at 7 pm. ECC will remain on the road until Saturday, Sept. 9, when they have their home opener against Iowa Central at noon.
- 30 -
Photo Caption: Returning lettermen.