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The Paw Print

The Paw Print

Boys football rewriting the narrative


Under the leadership of a new coaching staff and fueled by an active off season, Poly’s football team has undergone a significant transformation. Last year, the football team struggled with chemistry and game skills, only achieving one win in a 14 game season. However, from the ashes of a disappointing year, a reformed culture has emerged, and the team has started off the 2023 season with an impressive 4-1 record.

Head coach Ken Henderson, the mastermind behind this turnaround, has a determined mentality and regularly says, “Your attitude determines your altitude.” This mantra has become the foundation upon which the Panthers have rebuilt their team.

Senior Cole Mallinger, a wide receiver, said, “Our expectations are extremely high as I myself and the team believe that we have taken a large stride forward in our performance and skill level as a team under a new coaching staff.”

Senior cornerback and wide receiver Parker Gooden acknowledged the competitive nature of the Rio Hondo League, in which the Panthers face off against formidable opponents like Monrovia, South Pasadena, San Marino, La Canada and Temple City.

The Panthers spent the summer honing their skills, and their four non-league games have been important in identifying weaknesses.

“This is a very different program from years past, and despite having a smaller team than most other schools, the energy and entire structure of the program has been reworked,” said Gooden.

After an exciting win against Hoover in their first game of the season, the team faced adversity in their second game versus Rio Hondo. The game ended in a crushing 47-21 defeat. While this loss was disappointing, it served as a valuable learning experience; the Panthers recognized the areas that needed improvement and used this setback as a springboard for their subsequent wins.

In their third game against Duarte, the Panthers dominated the field, defeating their opponents in a commanding 41-20 win.

This victory boosted their confidence for their fourth game against Francis Parker, but Poly quickly fell behind 0-20 early in the game. From there, the Panthers faced an uphill battle. Refusing to back down, they mounted a stunning comeback. With unwavering determination, they clawed their way back into the game, eventually securing a thrilling 30-27 victory.

A significant driving force behind the Panthers’ resurgence has been junior quarterback Everson Mathis. Averaging an impressive 290 yards per game, Mathis has been the catalyst for the team’s offensive success. His ability to read the field, make accurate passes, and lead the offense has been nothing short of exceptional. Mathis has emerged as a rising star, and his contributions have been pivotal to the Panthers’ success.

Additionally, the new team environment that the coaches and upperclassmen have created allows room for younger players to flourish. As Poly continues to embrace the new football culture, the team, fueled by a young core and led by experienced upperclassmen, can expect success in games and seasons to come.

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Peter Panossian, Student Contributor
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