Heefner, 0-6 Panthers stay upbeat

October 15, 1993|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff Writer

The North Carroll Panthers undoubtedly will go into tonight's football game at Linganore overmatched in size and depth.

The Panthers (0-6) also will bring a 16-game losing streak that spans two seasons.

Senior quarterback Kris Heefner -- all 6 feet 4, 170 pounds of him -- is not fazed.

"We're learning a lot about life right now and going through some rough times," he said.

"It's pretty tough going in and knowing you don't have a very good chance of winning, but you just have to keep pushing and pushing. If things don't go your way, you can't give up, just do your best."

It's that kind of attitude that has kept Heefner and the Panthers working hard on getting things turned around.

"The best way to describe him is he's a calming influence," said first-year coach Bill Rumbaugh.

"On the field, he's calm and collected no matter what the situation is around him. Everyone looks to him to see how he reacts."

Losing and the frustration it brings often will separate a team. But the Panthers keep plugging away and reaching goals that often aren't reflected on the scoreboard.

"We're setting small goals -- week-to-week and play-to-play goals. We constantly talk about executing every play one at a time and it's easier to see positive things that way," Rumbaugh said.

"Kris has caught on to that very well. A perfect example came in our 35-0 loss to South Carroll. The day before, Kris and three of his receivers stayed after practice and worked on some extra things that we were able to execute in that game. It's those things that will help turn things around for us."

Heefner, with one of the strongest arms in the county, has thrown for 203 yards and averaged more than 10 yards per completion.

"He's got a good arm and is achieving a good grasp of the game and our system," Rumbaugh said.

"His view of the field has improved drastically over the season and his footwork has greatly improved. Above all else, he's very intelligent and well spoken."

Heefner enjoys his role but wished he could have begun playing the position at an earlier age.

"I started out as a split end my freshman year and then moved to quarterback two or three games in," he said.

"I enjoy being the boss and trying to get everyone working together toward the same goal. Often we're overmatched in size so we have to try and outsmart them."

And what keeps him positive and spending extra time after practice?

"I just enjoy the game and love being around the guys," he said. "I look forward to practice after school and it enables me to let off some steam. It's just a lot of fun."

Rumbaugh sees positive things coming. The Panthers are starting from the ground up and are on the right track. Heefner will not be around to celebrate the wins, but it was his effort and the rest of the Panthers this season that got the ball rolling.

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