The Newberry Panthers open its season Friday night against cross-county rival Santa Fe High School with kickoff set for 7 p.m. Newberry looks to rebound this season after posting a record of 5-6 in 2021.
Former Gators Join the Newberry Coaching Staff
Following a subpar season, Newberry head coach Edward Johnson said he needed to revamp his coaching staff. So, he hired two former Gator football players.
Former wide receiver Travis McGriff was brought in to be the new offensive coordinator while former linebacker Reid Fleming is the new defensive coordinator.
McGriff played for the University of Florida from 1994-1998 and was a member of the 1996 Gators national championship team. Fleming spent four seasons wearing the orange and blue in the early 2000s and has spent the past few years coaching the Newberry middle school football team with McGriff.
Johnson says the biggest thing that McGriff and Fleming bring to the table is their energy, expertise and knowledge of the game.
Newberry Football Looking Towards the Future
When asked about the team’s biggest difference from last season, Johnson spoke about the youth of his team. Johnson said that the team will be starting multiple freshmen and sophomores this season.
Also, he said the biggest adjustment for the young players is getting used to playing on Friday nights under the lights. In their preseason contest last week, the head coach said there were 10-12 players getting their first taste of varsity action.
One player making their varsity debut was freshman quarterback Kiel McGriff. Johnson said McGriff did some things well, but has some things to work on.
Preparing for Santa Fe
When asked about facing the Raiders, Johnson said their program is heading in the right direction. Johnson spoke on the size of Santa Fe’s line as well as their athleticism on the outside. Overall, Johnson said he is excited for the test Santa Fe brings.