FIT FOOTBALL OPENS TONIGHT AT FLORIDA TECH PANTHER STADIUM

By  //  September 5, 2015

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7 p.m. kickoff vs. Newberry Wolves

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Florida Tech football opens the 2015 season Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET against the Newberry Wolves at Florida Tech Panther Stadium. (FIT image)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – The anticipation has been building up all spring and summer but the wait is finally coming to a close.

Florida Tech football opens the 2015 season Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET against the Newberry Wolves at Florida Tech Panther Stadium.

The game is the Panthers’ annual White Out Game presented by Florida Tech University Online. Fans are strongly encouraged to wear white. The first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a specially designed White Out T-shirt.

After falling to the Wolves in a close battle during FIT’s inaugural season in 2013, the Panthers are not looking past their Week One opponent.

“Newberry is a really good team,” said head coach Steve Englehart.

Florida Tech's Steve Englehart was honored as the Coach of Year in FIT's second season in the GSC. (Florida Tech image)

Florida Tech’s Steve Englehart was honored as Coach of the Year in FIT’s second season in the GSC. (Florida Tech image)

“They have the majority of their starters returning on both sides of the ball and a lot of seniors on both sides as well. Those guys are a very experienced bunch who are motivated to come down here. It’s the SAC versus the Gulf South Conference and they’re motivated to come here and get a win. They missed the playoffs last year after making it in 2013 so I’m sure they’re hungry to get back. It’s going to be a challenge, no doubt.”

For the Panthers to meet that challenge, the key returners from a year ago will need to build upon strong seasons in 2014.

Mark Cato

Mark Cato

Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Mark Cato will be under center for FIT after being handed the keys to the Panther offense as a freshman last season. All that the Gainesville, Florida native did in 2014 was garner the GSC Offensive Freshman of the Year Award with 2,926 passing yards and 32 touchdowns.

Trevor Sand

Trevor Sand

Feature running back Trevor Sand will likely be asked to carry a bulk of the load for the FIT rushing attack. Sand led the conference in rushing during the regular season in 2014, posting 1,117 yards and nine scores. Gary Holmes will also see plenty of carries having fully recovered from an ACL injury in 2013.

After garnering a myriad of All-American, all-region and all-conference accolades last season, senior tight end Gabe Hughes may be an even bigger part of the offense. Hughes registered 492 yards and six touchdowns through the air in 2014.

Terrance Bynum

Terrance Bynum

One big question that will need to be answered is where the production will come from at the wide receiver position for the Panthers after losing last season’s top-three yard-getters at wide out. T.J. Lowder, a transfer from Division I Florida International, will be looked to often to help replenish the FIT receiving corps. Young talents Jaaron Barrett and Terrance Bynum are also likely candidates, along with veteran slot receiver Wayne Saunders II.

Chris Stapleton

Chris Stapleton

On defense, the Panthers return two of the top linebackers in the GSC in J.J. Sanders and Chris Stapleton, who combined for 32 tackles for loss and 13 sacks a season ago. The FIT secondary is bolstered by All-GSC corner Manny Abad, who led the conference in passes defended with eight. The opposite corner position also appears to be a strength for the Panthers with senior Leo Alba II, who has looked strong during fall practice.

With the addition of associate head coach and defensive line coach Mark Smith, the front line for the Panther defense will look for further improvement after a solid season in 2014.

For the Wolves, junior signal caller Raleigh Yeldell will fully take over the reins after splitting time the past two seasons. Yeldell passed for 300 yards and four scores as a sophomore. The Wolves rushing attack will be led by junior Romelo Doctor, who carried for 447 yards and five touchdowns in 2014. Senior wide receiver Jalen Cook is the top returning pass catcher having racked up 345 yards and finding the end zone five times.

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The Newberry defense is spearheaded by defensive lineman Alstevis Squirewell, who tallied 66 tackles last season. Seventeen of Squirewell’s tackles occurred behind the line of scrimmage, including five sacks. Linebacker Taylor McDonnell also returns for the Wolves after a season with 64 total tackles and 13.5 tackles for loss.

As will be the case for all 11 Panther contests in 2015, the game can be heard on the Panthers’ Official Radio Partner, WFIT 89.5 FM. Jerry Durney and Paul Van Scott will start Saturday’s broadcast with a pregame show at 6:30 p.m. The broadcast can also be heard at WFIT.org and through the free TuneIn Radio app.

Live video, audio and stats will be available at FloridaTechsports.com/live.


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