Pre Snap Read
Coach: Brad Bowles, third season
Conference: So. Meck 7
2016 Record: 3-8, 2-5
The Panthers had four losses by eight points or less, which arguably was a major factor in their failure to reach the playoffs. Providence entered the offseason with plenty of motivation. Players responded with a strong winter, spring and summer in the weight room. The Panthers are a playoff-caliber team.
Senior quarterback Jack Cherry is back to run Providence’s spread offense. He’s a leader, who understands the offense. He can spread the ball around and makes the necessary checks and reads.
Senior center David Morgan, who brings physicality to the position, returns to anchor the offensive line. He is joined in the interior by senior guards Quinn DeIuliis and Edric Dantas. DeIuliis is known for the aggression he plays with and for his versatility. Miguel Lefaivre and Blake Long will man the offensive tackle spots.
Drake DeIuliis, who plays for Virginia Tech, left a major void with his departure, but Patrick Bloomingburg, a tight end/H-back, bring athleticism to those spots. He also can run the ball.
It’s going to be difficult to replace East Carolina freshman and former wide receiver Blake Proehl; however, Providence welcomes what should be a young and exciting group of receivers. Junior wide receiver Caleb Ogunmola is expected to be one of the primary options in the aerial attack. He brings speed, strength and good hands to the position. Junior Will Kakavitsas is a good possession receiver. Harrison Poe is another reliable target. Matt Smith returns as another option for Cherry. Bloomingburg will factor into the passing game.
Providence’s rushing attack will be a major part of its spread offense. Senior Julian Boddie will be at the center of its ground game. Nate Mattar, a physical bruiser, gives the Panthers’ another reliable ball carrier, while Nathan Kibambe and Will Gean are other options at running back.
Providence employs a 4-2-5 as its base scheme, which frees it up to move in and out of different fronts and coverages.
Junior defensive end Nick King, junior defensive tackle Gavin Reeder and senior John Kendrew return with starting experience, making Providence’s defensive front a tall order for opponents to block. Gean and Bloomingburg are competing for the other starting spot at defensive end, while junior Ryan Spivak will help there, too.
Christian Saddler, who played for Carolina Pride last season, as well as Jack Wilkes and Gean, provide the Panthers with a dynamic trio of middle linebackers, while senior Parks Lewis, a returning starter, is back at outside linebacker, which also is known as the dog position. Junior Chris James can play dog or rover, which is a hybrid position that can line up as a safety or outside linebacker. Former Carolina Pride defender Obie Maduegbunam adds depth at outside linebacker.
Providence senior free safety Grey Sigmon is a veteran leader. He brings experience to the secondary, especially the free safety position. Maduegbunam will man the rover position. Kibambe, Ogunmola, senior Dashan Hicks and junior Jacob Henderson are going to man the cornerback positions.
Senior Bryson Porzenski is back to kick and punt, while Poe and others might handle punt returns. Ogunmola is one of the leading candidates to return kicks.
In the Spotlight:
Boddie, an all-conference running back, rushed for 1,084 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. He is eager to build on those numbers in 2017. The senior workhorse gives Providence a proven offensive weapon. Boddie has the vision, toughness and strength to thrive with the ball in his hands. He is on the heels of a strong offseason and is ready to lead with his positive attitude.
– Ben Doster