INSIDE THE HUDDLE: Event Previews Florida Tech Panthers 2016 Football Season

By  //  July 31, 2016

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hosted by FIT President T. Dwayne McCay

ABOVE VIDEO: Friday Night Locker Room and Space Coast Daily Sports Anchor Steve Wilson talks with Panther head football coach Steve Englehart about the upcoming season during the Inside the Huddle event held at Florida Tech.

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – The Florida Tech Panthers held its annual “Inside the Huddle” Reception and Dinner Saturday evening in the Hartley Room on the Florida Tech campus, hosted by President T. Dwayne McCay. 

The event began with the invocation by Athletic Director Bill Jurgens and Mitch Praxl was the night’s MC. 

The keyword of the night was “optimism.”  The Panthers are coming off the 2015 season with a 7-4 record, one win shy of making the playoffs.  

With an abundance of talent returning, the future does indeed look bright.  So bright that President McCay boldly predicted at the Gulf South Conference President’s meeting that the Panthers were going to win the conference championship in 2016.

Panther head coach Steve Englehart gave an overview on the brief history of Florida Tech football and spoke with passion about the importance of players stepping up and taking ownership of the team, about becoming “true” team leaders. 

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According to Englehart, the players finally did that after a heartbreaking loss last year at North Alabama.  Once the team leaders on the Panthers took charge, and started to hold each other accountable, they reeled off six consecutive victories, among them a 28-26 defeat of the number one team in the nation, West Georgia.

Englehart introduced his coaching staff and key individuals that have helped the Panthers program from Day 1. Along with Englehart, President McCay gave a glowing report on how far the Panthers have come in such a short time. 

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LEFT TO RIGHT: Bill Jurgens, President Dr. T. Dwayne McCay, and Coach Steve Englehart during the 2016 Inside the Huddle event at Florida Tech. (Space Coast Daily image)

Eight of the 29 returning seniors on the team were in attendance.  Among them were two of the night’s speakers, Kenny Johnston and Chris Stapleton who both gave heart-warming, and at times humorous, talks about what it means to be a Panther and how it was in the early days.

Both players are optimistic about the 2016 season, and, why not?  Florida Tech returns their veteran starting QB, Junior Mark Cato.  Despite injuries throughout the season, Cato threw for more than 2,000 yards and 19 TDs. 

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Panther Senior Trevor Sand during the 2016 Inside the Huddle event at Florida Tech. (Space Coast Daily image)

Cato is joined in the backfield by a pair of running backs in senior Trevor Sand, and last year’s conference offensive freshman of the year Antwuan Haynes. 

The power of Sand and speed of Haynes make them capable of scoring from anywhere on the field at any time.  Returning senior Kenny Johnston was the leading receiver last year with almost 800 yards and 10 TDs.

On the defensive side of the ball, most of the leading tacklers are returning, including Stapleton, Skylar Sheffield, Nate McDowell, Trai Cadore, Andrew Adair and Tevin Kirkland.

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The season gets underway on Sept. 3 as the Panthers play at Newberry, S.C.  Florida Tech will then host Mississippi College in its first home game of the year on Sept. 10. 

There is reason for optimism if you’re a Florida Tech football fan. The Panthers have as much talent as any team in the conference, one of the very best coaches in the nation and continue to improve every year. 

Yes, this could be the year of the Panther! 

Season ticket orders are being accepted online by clicking here, or over the phone through the FIT ticket office at 321-674-6228.

SEE INSIDE THE HUDDLE IMAGE GALLERY BELOW:

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FIT President Dr. T. Dwayne McCay addresses the Panther faithful during the 2016 Inside the Huddle event at Florida Tech. Along with Coach Steve Englehart, President McCay gave a glowing report on how far the Panthers have come in such a short time. (Space Coast Daily image)

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LEFT TO RIGHT: Heidi Joyce, Dale McCraw, Duane Flansburg and Mary Flansburg enjoy the 2016 Inside the Huddle event at Florida Tech. (Space Coast Daily image)

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LEFT TO RIGHT: Donna Cassario, Devin Swanson and Sarah Swanson enjoy the 2016 Inside the Huddle event at Florida Tech. (Space Coast Daily image)

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LEFT TO RIGHT: Bill Jurgens, Misty Marot and Chris Marot enjoy the 2016 Inside the Huddle event at Florida Tech. (Space Coast Daily image)

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LEFT TO RIGHT: Chad Raymond, Coach Steve Englehart and Jayson Martin enjoy the 2016 Inside the Huddle event at Florida Tech. (Space Coast Daily image)

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Puneet Kapur, Dr. T. Dwayne McCay, Mary Helen McCay and Nancy Peltonen enjoy the 2016 Inside the Huddle event at Florida Tech. (Space Coast Daily image)

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Panther Senior tight end Kenny Johnston talks about the upcoming season during the 2016 Inside the Huddle event at Florida Tech. (Space Coast Daily image)

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Panther Senior linebacker Chris Stapleton talks about the upcoming season during the 2016 Inside the Huddle event at Florida Tech. (Space Coast Daily image)

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Mike and Freddie Erdman enjoy the 2016 Inside the Huddle event at Florida Tech. The Edmans are among the biggest supporters of local sports and have been the main sponsor for the Friday Night Locker Room for 18 years. (Space Coast Daily image)

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Freddie Erdman, left, and Lisa Nicholas enjoy the 2016 Inside the Huddle event at Florida Tech. (Space Coast Daily image)

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Coach Englehart, left, and Steve Wilson during the 2016 Inside the Huddle event at Florida Tech. (Space Coast Daily image)

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Panther Head Football Coach Steve Englehart said he is looking forward to a great 2016 season during the Inside the Huddle event at Florida Tech. (Space Coast Daily image)

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Florida Tech senior football players at the 2016 Inside the Huddle event at Florida Tech. (Space Coast Daily image)


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