In just over 50 days, the Bullard Panther varsity football program will begin its prowl through the regular season in hopes of making their way into the postseason picture in a football district packed with talent and athleticism.
In the recently released issue of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine, often referred to as “The Bible for Texas High School Football,” the Panthers will face a challenge when it comes to securing a top-four playoff qualifying finish in Class 4A Division II’s District 9.
Last season was the first year for the Panthers to be placed in District 9, regarded by many as “The District of Doom” due to the presence of a number of Texas high school football powerhouse teams.
In the 2016 season, former Panther varsity football head coach and athletic director Shannon Wilson led the Panthers to an overall record of 3-7, 0-6 in district play, placing the Panthers in the basement of the district and out of the playoff picture.
In February, Wilson became the Lone Finalist and accepted the positions of athletic director and head football coach for Bridgeport High School, near the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, creating a vacancy at the top of the Panthers’ athletic office.
The empty chair inside the Panthers’ athletic field house was filled when Superintendent Todd Schneider and the Bullard ISD Board of Trustees announced the hiring of Scott Callaway, an East Texas native who was serving as the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach for the Mesquite Skeeters, in late April.
Before his tenure with Mesquite, Callaway, a 25 year veteran in coaching and education, was the head football coach and athletic director for Big Sandy and Gladewater for a combined nine years.
In the 2016 season, Callaway and the Mesquite Skeeters achieved an overall record of 3-7, 1-6 in district play, finishing in seventh place in Class 6A’s District 11 and out of the playoffs.
With Callaway at the helm for his inaugural season with the Panthers, the writers of DCTF expect the Panthers to perform similarly to last season.
The publication is predicting a seventh place District finish for the Panthers in the upcoming 2017 season, saying the Panthers will finish behind the 2016 4A Division I State Champion Carthage Bulldogs (13-2, 4-2 district), Henderson Lions (11-2, 5-1 district), Kilgore Bulldogs (7-5 overall, 5-1 district), Palestine Wildcats (5-5, 2-4 district), Center Roughriders (6-5, 4-2 district), and Tyler Chapel Hill Bulldogs (2-8, 1-5 district).
“The Panthers made a late coaching hire in former Mesquite OC Callaway,” said the publication, in its comments about the Panthers. “He inherits a team that won three games, but returns building blocks.”
According to DCTF, the Panthers’ “Players to Watch” during the new 2017 season will be defensive back and wide receiver Ty Crayton, running back and linebacker Luke Bowman, wide receiver and defensive back Nic Costas, linebacker Thomas Brooks, offensive lineman Weston Roach, linebacker Brody Mullican, linebacker Landry Lasseter, wide receiver Dustin Dover, quarterback Tristen Shewmake, and placekicker Will McCowin.
The Panthers will prowl into the 2017 campaign with a season home-opening non-district contest against the Malakoff Tigers Friday, Sept. 1.
In non-district play, the Panthers will also battle against the Groesbeck Goats Friday, Sept. 8, in Groesbeck; the Brownsboro Bears Friday, Sept. 15 in Brownsboro; and the Commerce Lions for the annual Homecoming game on Friday, Sept. 22.
The battle for “The District of Doom” will commence Friday, Sept. 29, as the Panthers begin district play against the Center Roughriders.
After taking the annual BYE week off from action, the Panthers jump back into district play against the Palestine Wildcats Friday, Oct. 13 in Palestine, followed by the Chapel Hill Bulldogs at home on Friday, Oct. 20; the Carthage Bulldogs Friday, Oct. 27 in Carthage; the Henderson Lions at Henderson on Friday, Nov. 3; and the annual Senior Night game against the Kilgore Bulldogs Friday, Nov. 10.
In preparation for the new season the team will prepare for the dawn of the new season by participating in the annual two-a-day practices beginning Monday, Aug. 7.
The Panthers will then tune up for Friday Night Lights with scrimmages against the Wills Point Tigers Saturday, Aug. 19 at Panther Stadium and versus the Jacksonville Indians Friday, Aug. 25 at Jacksonville.
A schedule for the 2017 Bullard Panther football season can be found under the “Athletics” tab on the district’s website, www.bullardisd.net.