CHELTENHAM — Brandon Mack is the type of player that can leave an imprint on any game he’s involved in.
It’s part of the reason the Cheltenham senior will be joining Temple’s program as an athlete next year. But with one season still to go in blue and gold, Mack faces a tall task.
Around him, the Panthers will be young and short on varsity experience.
“I was real ambitious and kind of got smacked back into reality that we have to shrink things down a little bit,” Cheltenham coach Joe Gro said. “We’re going to have to shrink it down and try and do two or three things OK rather than 12 things poorly.”
While Cheltenham has some good athletes and hard workers on the practice fields, most of them don’t have game experience. Mack can cover some deficiencies, but not all of them.
Gro said he hadn’t anticipated this group needing that much work to get ready, thus the plan to scale things back so they wouldn’t be totally overwhelmed come Week 1. The veteran coach knows the value of staying patient with young players, but he was frustrated at the start of camp by the few veterans making dumb mistakes.
Mack and senor wideout/linebacker Matt Tuszl both felt that while there’s a lot of inexperience, it might be the only thing holding back the talent on the team. Both seniors said they felt a little bit of a chip because all they’ve heard is that it’s supposed to be a down year for the Panthers.
“We have to encourage them and show leadership.” Tuszl said. “We have to encourage to take those spots. We have to show them the right thing and how to do it.”
Mack, who brings a big, strong build to the quarterback position, will undoubtedly draw plenty of attention from every team on the Panthers’ schedule. The quarterback said that while the younger players may not know what to expect in games, it can also open opportunities for them.
“It’s half and half,” Mack said. “There’s certain known players on every team, but for those unknown players, they can go out and prove everyone wrong. If everyone wants to focus on me, then one of them can have a standout game.”
Top Photo: Cheltenham works on agility drills at practice on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. Bob Raines (Montgomery Media)