William Tennent thriving under new coach Plenski

Leo Plenski is only in his first year at William Tennent but he already has the Panthers sold on his plan.

Tennent is now 2-0 after topping Samuel Fels High School 44-0 last Saturday. The Panthers, who have had three head coaches in four years, have gone all-in with Plenski, who sold his players on development but also emphasized winning right away.

A dominant effort on both sides of the ball led the Panthers to their second straight win of the season.
“It was Fels’ first game of the season so we didn’t really know what to expect,” Plenski said. “It took us a drive or two to figure out what they were doing offensively and defensively. But the aggressive defense we have shown we can play the last two weeks helped us get on track.”

Tennent broke the game with a 27-0 edge in the second quarter and it was a key defensive play in the first quarter that set the tone for the game. The Panthers had Fels backed up and sent a punt block, sending the ball through the endzone for a safety.

While Tennent has a good number of seniors, much of the team do not have significant varsity experience. Finding that roll offensively in the first half allowed the Panthers to settle in and play the way they wanted to.

“Each week it gives us more experience,” Plenski said. “After this week and by the time we reach league play we hope we’re more settled in to their positions. They’re still learning a new offense and defensively adjusting to our coaching staff.”

Plenski said he’s happy with what he’s seen so far but also thinks the team can continue to grow.

Knowing the instability at the top of the program recently, Plenski and his staff came into the offseason knowing they had to get the seniors on their side first. He said they’ve been great leaders and have provided the needed communication between players and coaches that has allowed the staff to settle in so well, so quickly.

“It’s given us a great amount of confidence to do what we’re doing,” Plenski said. “We feel like we have a great opportunity this week to go to 3-0 which is something that hasn’t been done in a while at Tennent.”

Two other things have played a key part in Tennent’s hot start. The first is a resiliency that has allowed the Panthers to shake off trying moments, including a pick-six in a critical moment in Week 1 against Mastery Charter North.

“It’s an ability to never give up,” Plenski said. “They made it a football game and we answered right away with a six-minute drive and a touchdown to seal the game. These guys never quit, they do what’s asked of them and it’s easy to coach guys like that.”

The other is back Dan Castello, who has embraced the role of featured player on offense. Castello had a nice game against Fels, rushing for 50 yards and two TDs while catching three passes for 38 yards.

“He seems like the kind of guy who doesn’t mind having that offense put on his back,” Plenski said. “For the size of the kid, he’s maybe (5-foot-10) and 160 pounds but he has no problem going hard up the middle, taking a beating and getting back in the huddle.”

The Panthers have played plenty of juniors and sophomores, getting more kids reps and starting to build for coming seasons. But Plenski also pledged to his seniors that the team would go all in on winning now and it has.

Buzz has been building around the team in the school and community and Plenski said if the team continues to play well, the fans will come out and support it.

“The way we looked at the season before we even started camp was that there wasn’t one game on the schedule we couldn’t win,” Plenski said. “The kids bought in and they’re believers. They, especially the seniors, want to go out with a winning record and make playoffs, something that hasn’t been done in over 10 years. They’re confident and each week we show improvement will only make them more important.”

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