Florida Tech Panthers Begin Spring Football Practice, Ziarno Sees Action At QB
By Alan Zlotorzynski // February 17, 2016
PANTHER LOOK TO MAKE PLAYOFFS In 2016
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Pitchers and catchers may be getting ready to report to baseball spring training camps but football, at least Florida Tech Panthers football, has hit the playing field first in 2016.
On Tuesday, head coach Steve Englehart and his Panthers took to the practice field at the Varsity Training Center and ran through 120 minutes of drills, as well as 7-on-7 and even some 11-on-11 to finish the day.
In helmets only the first two days, the team is scheduled to put on the shoulder pads starting today and it could not have come to soon as Florida Tech looks poised to take the next step following a successful but playoff-less 2015 campaign.
Last season the Panthers finished 7-4 overall but 5-2 in arguably the toughest conference in all of Davison II football, the Gulf South Conference. The season was filled with far more ups than downs, including a 28-26 Homecoming victory over the then No.1 team in the country, the West Georgia Wolves.
The Panthers playoff hopes were dealt a final fatal blow following a 39-21 road loss to Valdosta State in the season’s final game. However, one could sense that the Panthers had grown as a team and were ready to take the next step.
The thought of coming so close has fueled the fire for the 2016 season and while it is only spring practice, the success of last season and the sour taste of just missing out on something bigger, was evident during the first two days of spring practice.
The tempo of the first two spring practices was fast and very crisp. Coach Steve Englehart was pleased and was very complimentary of his team when speaking with Space Coast Daily following yesterday’s two-hour workout.
“These guys looked really good, a lot of energy out there— these guys are chomping at the bit to get the pads on,” Englehart said.
Getting the pads on will start today.
Former Melbourne Central Catholic quarterback Brandon Ziarno took all of the snaps under center yesterday, as starter Mark Cato was in class. The former MCC Hustler was a record setter under center in Brevard County.
Ziarno passed for 7,360 yards and 90 touchdowns during his three seasons as varsity starter.
Ziarno “Grey-shirted” his freshman season. Grey shirting is a college freshman who postpones his enrollment in classes until the second term of his freshman year. The NCAA allows college athletes five years to complete four years of eligibility after initial enrollment.
When a gray shirt puts off his enrollment, he’s extending his eligibility past his senior year for another term. Gray shirting is most commonly used in football.
By delaying enrollment until the spring after his senior year of high school, a football player can play the fall season one year after his graduation date.
With all of the quarterbacks that were on the Panthers roster, Ziarno agreed and yesterday got his first field action in quite some time.
He looked like he didn’t miss a beat. Ziarno completed passes along the sideline, deep down the field and showed off his dual threat capability by scrambling out of trouble.
The Panthers will be back on the field today at 4:30 p.m. at the VTC in Palm Bay with shoulder pads on.
The spring practices will culminate with the Panthers Spring Game at Panther Stadium on March 3 under the lights at 7 p.m.
Practices are open to the public and stay tuned to Space Coast Daily for updates.