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Sports for July 24, 2008

Berger Takes Over Coaching

WALSENBURG- For John Mall coach, Ken Berger, this is a rebuilding year.  Berger was officially hired by the board at their meeting July 8, and he quickly began getting his team organized.  He already has players lifting weights and will be taking some players to camps later this month.  Official two-a-day workouts begin August 11 and Berger is hoping his players will be in shape before the contact begins.  So far 14 players are working out, but he expects 25 or so players to be suited up once the season begins.

     Berger says his biggest challenge will be the inexperience of his team.  He will have two returning seniors and five juniors to lead his squad this season.  “This is the year they will get the experience.  Until they get into a situation, you don’t know how they will react..”  Another obstacle facing the Panthers is their size.  They will field one of the smallest teams in the league and will need to find a way to stop the bigger opponents.  Berger hopes they will do it with speed and a consistent defensive plan.  He has selected Joe Hibpshman as his defensive co-coordinator and David Harriman to run the offense.  Also on the Berger staff will be Tobias De Herrera and Mike Whitehead.  Other coaches have not yet been determined.

   Berger is returning as head coach.  He lead the helm in the 2005-2006 season.  His hopes are to rebuild the program to its glory days, back to winning league titles.  The last year the Cats had a successful season was 2001 when they went 7-3. 

   Berger has coached most of these players.  The sophomores on this year’s team began with Warrior football, in which Berger plays a big part.  He has coached many of the kids coming up in the junior high ranks and has already turned around that program.  By the time his sophomores graduate, Berger will have been involved in coaching his kids from the Warrior football league to Panther Football.  Given his work with the youth, the Panthers could be a force to reckon with in the coming years. According to Berger, “You will see the future of John Mall football by watching the young players.”

     The first test for the Panthers  and the Berger era begins with an away game at Sargent on August 29.


WALSENBURG- The annual Coal Miners Classic and Senior Open was postponed until September because there were not enough golfers registered. Club president Gary Vezzini was sorry to postpone, and he will post the rescheduled date in the clubhouse later this month.  If you have an interest, please sign up early to help get an accurate player count. Call the club at 738-2730.

Decision Forthcoming

WALSENBURG- The last of the interviews to hire the athletic director were held last Monday, and the hiring committee will present their recommendations to the school board at the monthly meeting Tuesday July 29.  Also slated is the hiring of the volleyball coach, which means the girls will soon have a leader.  These are the last two positions to be filled to complete hiring for the 2008-2009 sports season.

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