Fossil Ridge quarterback is ready to lead

Posted Monday, Sep. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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A year ago, Keller Fossil Ridge quarterback Jacob Gnacinski was thrust into the starting quarterback role just before the season started. Despite the team's struggles at times they were in the thick of the playoff race until the last night of the season.

“He split time in the spring two years ago so he didn’t have the full amount of reps going into last year,” coach Tony Baccarini said. “Now that he has the full amount of reps under his belt he is very comfortable about what is going on.

One year later with some experience under his belt, Gnacinski has guided his team to a 2-1 record heading into Thursday night’s District 4-5 opener at home against Richland.

"He worked really hard on his foot work and accuracy and is vastly improved and more confident player this year,” the coach adds.

The Panthers started 2013 with convincing victories over Grapevine (45-7) and Dallas Jesuit (63-19), then lost a hard-fought game to a strong Hebron team on the road, 30-23. Gnacinski has completed 61 of 95 passes for 902 yards and nine scores, while being picked off just twice.

Fossil Ridge 0-3 a year ago and would eventually miss the playoffs.

“We have an experienced group of seniors that played as sophomores,” Baccarini said. “They made the playoffs then, but missed out a year ago, but now that we have a little more age and experience it makes things easier.”

Another factor is the Panthers have several weapons that they can get the ball to when they need a big play. Ryan Parker, who didn’t play a year ago, has 20 receptions for 410 yards and five scores. Niron Fields has eight receptions for 175 yards and three scores and Cameron Castleberry has 10 catches for 145 yards. Keshawn Mitchell has led the ground attack with 24 carries for 155 yards and four scores.

“We have a lot of weapons and our team speed is very good,” Baccarini said. “Our chemistry is really good and this team cares about each other and what is going on. We have high expectations and the kids have lived up to them. The energy is better this year and our focus is on us improving each week and not necessarily on what our opponent has done.”

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