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Tribune Staff

Panthers' season could hinge on what takes place in the trenches

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times, and for Powell High School head football coach Jim Stringer, it was a season unlike any other. The Powell Panthers won their first four games a year ago before injuries, player dismissals and a full-scale mugging at the hands of the swine flu conspired to cause the team to fade to a 4-4 finish and a missed playoff opportunity.

“That last week, I've never seen anything like it,” Stringer said, recalling how sickness kept him from coaching his team during the season's final week and decimated the Panthers to the point where Powell was unable to field a scout team in the buildup to its final game.

That was a year ago. With the start of the 2010 football season slated to begin this Saturday, when the Panthers travel to Miles City, Mont., for their annual scrimmage game (the contest plays as a regular season game for Miles City, but won't appear in the Panthers' season record), Stringer will have a team of about 60 players ready to go.

According to the WyoPreps.com media and coaches' preseason poll, the Panthers kick off the season ranked fifth in Class 3A.

Thanks to the mishaps of last season, Powell returns “six or seven” players with “significant varsity playing time” to each side of the football, according to Stringer. The Panthers have several proven playmakers and a wealth of athleticism in the offensive backfield. Many of the holes that need filled by the program will come along the offensive and defensive lines.

“It's going to take some time for the kids to grow into those positions,” Stringer said of the Panthers' developing 2010 line. “The kids on our line of scrimmage need to think. They need to perform as a unit. I'm excited with the kids we have. I think we've got some good, young talent. We've made a few personnel moves to bolster our line of scrimmage, but it will take time and repetition to get them working together as a unit.”

Getting that unit operating together is a key, because behind the offensive line sits junior Keithen Schwahn, who accounted for nearly 1,500 yards of offense last year, including 1,131 yards through the air. Schwahn's most productive target in ‘09, senior Kyle Sullivan, is also back, looking to build upon a campaign that saw him average better than 19 yards per reception.

“We're not going to be the biggest team out there, but we're used to that,” said Stringer. “That's why our system emphasizes misdirection and combination blocks to give us a chance to use our athletic ability.”

Defensively, the Panthers will make a slight change this season, shying away from the 3-5 scheme in favor of a return to a more-traditional 4-3 alignment. Despite it not being their primary defense in 2009, injuries forced the team to adapt and run some 4-3 as well.

“We don't have the same type of dominating down linemen that we had last season, and you need that in the 3-5,” said Stringer. “The 4-3 matches up better with what we have this season in terms of personnel. We've got an athletic group of linebackers and our secondary has the most experience of any area of the field. I expect we'll have another solid defense.”

After Saturday's trip to Miles City, the Panthers open the 2010 season with non-conference home games against Riverton and Wheatland. Star Valley and Lander will also make trips to Powell for varsity football this season while the Panthers' road slate takes them to Buffalo, Worland, Jackson and Cody.

“If we come together, especially the younger kids on the line, I think we can stack up with anyone in the 3A West,” said Stringer. “We'll have to use our speed to win games. Our schemes should feature our athleticism and quickness. As long as we stay healthy and come together as a team, we'll be competitive.”

School opened in Powell Monday, and as always, the new year was greeted with a variety of emotions as the kids reported.

Some new kindergartners arrived with grins on their faces while others reflected apprehension. A few tears were shed by moms as they entrusted their youngsters to a teacher for the first time. Among the kids returning to school, there were shouts and squeals of delight as friends who hadn't seen each other all summer reconnected. Dashes across the playground into group hugs were common sights.

Soon the kids were back in their classrooms, ready to take on the next challenges.

Wyoming's school kids are fortunate. In many states, schools have had to cut budgets, reducing faculty and even shutting down schools. More crowded class sizes and fewer opportunities are the result for the kids in those states.

In Wyoming, there haven't been many cutbacks, but that doesn't mean there won't be some in the future. The state is just beginning the process of recalibrating its school funding model, and that will determine funding levels for the next five years.

Funding isn't the only factor in the success of a school, though. Just as important is the level of support a school receives from parents and the community at large, and it is in that area that Powell's students are particularly fortunate.

Parental support of the Powell schools, especially the elementary schools, has been exceptional over the years, and community groups such as the Powell School Foundation and the Powell Athletic Roundtable provide tremendous support as well.

Powell businesses provide job experiences for high school students, and community members are frequently in the classroom to pass their knowledge and wisdom along or simply to help out.

Those contributions are a big reason why Powell schools are some of the best in Wyoming.

Take advantage of those good schools, and have a good year, kids.

(March 14, 1955 - Aug. 19, 2010)

John C. Bell, 55, of Cody, died Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010, while performing the duties of his position as supervisor of Grounds/Custodial Services at Northwest College.

Gene S. Allen died Saturday, Aug. 21, 2010 at Powell Valley Healthcare. He was 78.

(April 26, 1932 - August 21, 2010)

Gene Stewart Allen, of Powell, died Saturday, Aug. 21, at the Powell Valley Hospital. He was 78.

{gallery}08_19_10/voter{/gallery}

Max Baker of rural Powell leaves the Garland Community Church after casting his vote Tuesday morning in the primary election. Tribune photo by Carla Wensky

Three advance in GOP primary, two commissioners replaced

Two Republicans on the Park County Commission were replaced by county voters in Tuesday's primary election.
Unofficial county election results say sitting commissioner Tim French and challengers Loren Grosskopf of Cody and Joe Tilden of the South Fork area, will be the three candidates to advance to the general election in November.

Current Commissioners Bill Brewer and Jill Shockley Siggins came in fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 11-candidate Republican race.

Park County voters soundly defeated a proposed $14.2 million special purpose tax for renovations at West Park Hospital in Cody, with some 67.7 percent of voters opposing the measure. Just 32.3 percent voted in favor of the project.

“Evidently, we didn't do an adequate job of convincing voters to support the project,” said Carol Lea Roberts, West Park board chairman, on Wednesday. Roberts said there were a lot of misunderstandings in the community about how the nonprofit hospital operates.

Whether a group of monks can build a 145,000-square-foot monastery on a ranch outside of Meeteetse remains uncertain following a public hearing Tuesday night.

Dozens of Park County residents gathered at the courthouse hearing, overflowing into the hallway and voicing both opposition and support for the Carmelite monks' monastery plans.

{gallery}08_19_10/tennis{/gallery}

Panther tennis player Jake Larson of Cowley works on his serve Wednesday morning after practice. The tennis team takes the court for its first dual on Aug. 27. Tribune photo by Carla Wensky

NWC looks for encore after regional title, national appearance

The Northwest College Trapper volleyball program produced a 27-10 record, a regional championship and a national tournament appearance last season. That's nice, but for head coach Flavia Siqueira, that's also part of the past.

“New team, new year,” Siqueira said, one week out from her team's first games. “This team isn't like the team we had last season, but they have the potential to do the same sorts of things. They'll need to improve throughout the season.

Page 464 of 503

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