With just over two months until football season, Redmond High’s team is looking to take a big step up.

“I haven’t been this excited about a football season in a long time,” second-year coach Brent Wasche said. “Our kids are ready to go, and they’ve put in the work.”

The Panthers went 2-7 overall and 1-4 in 2018 in the north division of Class 5A Special District 2. Of those losses, Wasche points out that the Panthers led in three of them in the fourth quarter.

Because of injuries, the Panthers were forced to use four quarterbacks at times last season. While that didn’t help the 2018 Panthers, Wasche said getting more players experience will be important this season. He expects big things from Hayden Parrish and Austin Carter, who both saw time under center last year.

“Last year’s misfortunes are definitely beneficial for us now,” the coach said last week during the four-team High Desert Football Camp the Panthers played host to.

The quarterbacks should see more opportunities to throw, as Redmond moves to a spread offense from last season’s more run-heavy team. Redmond wrestling coach Kris Davis is taking over as offensive coordinator.

“The kids are super excited about it,” Wasche said.

Also back is incoming senior Brendan Powell, who scored five touchdowns while leading Redmond with 960 rushing yards. Colt Folston is another runner looking for a big season.

Key receivers include Henry Chambers, who had 11 catches for a team-high 229 yards, with three touchdowns. And Cooper Browning, who started the 2018 season at quarterback, moves to receiver in 2019.

They will play behind a line featuring seniors Dylan Moss and Mason Nonato and junior Jax Cummings.

“Our offensive line is pretty salty,” Wasche said.

The linemen look forward to playing games in the new offense.

“I think it will open up a lot of plays,” Cummings said. “I think it will be better for us as a team because we can hold our blocks longer.”

While Andrew McKague was third-team all-league his junior year at punter, Wasche hopes there will be less need to punt this time.

On defense, senior Chambers returns after making third-team all-league at defensive back, with 42 tackles and two interceptions.

“The biggest difference is our kids have put a ton of time into the offseason,” said Wasche, who didn’t get to take over the Panthers last season until finishing the school year in Texas. “We’ve got a lot more senior leadership and varsity experience. … It takes more than a summer to get a team ready, and they’ve been going at it honestly since November of last year.”

Redmond already has its largest team in a decade, with 94 kids out for football so far, Wasche said.

He credits the fun the players have, as well as the school’s strength and conditioning program, for the growth.

“We’re developing a family environment,” he said. “We’ve got great coaches and high-character kids. I think people want to be a part of it.”

At the camp, which also included Ridgeview, North Salem and Eagle Point, the Panthers got to practice and scrimmage against live competition. They will continue getting ready for the season with a 7-on-7 tournament in July at Summit.

— Reporter: 541-548-2186, gfolsom@redmondspokesman.com