CLAY, W.Va. — A decade has passed since Clay County has endured a losing season and the Panthers have posted winning campaigns each year since 2017. Entering their eighth year under head coach Jason Nichols, Clay’s program is established starting at the younger levels.
“A big help is being able to be on the same page with the feeder programs running the offensive and defensive schemes that we run,” said Nichols. “It is a smooth transition there. We are obviously blessed right now with some talent.”
The Panthers went 8-1 in the regular season last fall, earning a home playoff game for the first time in school history. Clay averaged 32 points per game utilizing a spread offense and returning starters can be found on the line and at all skill positions.
“We’ve got some new wrinkles and some new things with some guys that are a little more experienced and have a little more knowledge finding grass. There’s a lot of guys that just know how to search out the open holes and search out the little tendencies that we need to look for. We’ve got a lot of depth this year.”
Garrett Taylor, Braden Black and Landon Williams are senior starters on the offensive line. They will go to work in protection of junior quarterback Noah Collins. He averaged 248 passing yards per game and tossed 14 touchdowns in 8 games.
“Noah has been all over the state and all over the country really doing camps. He has gotten a lot better, a lot faster and a lot stronger. We are looking for big things out of Noah this year.”
Senior Zane Minger accounted for 683 yards and 7 touchdowns. First team All-State selection BJ Williams led the Panthers with 938 receiving yards. He scored 19 total touchdowns.
“BJ will be all over the place. We’ll scheme BJ for different plays. A lot of people will be keying on BJ and Zane and some of the other guys. But BJ is a heck of a ball player.”