But just as importantly, there have been younger Panthers stepping up and assuming key roles that have helped vault them back up the standings.
“We knew we’d be needing a lot of young guys to step up this year and tried to get them ready and prepared as best we can,” Sam Mulumba said. “They’ve all shown they really want to play, contribute and help us become a good team. As a sophomore I can’t even think about doing what these guys are doing. Matt (Madden), my brother (Peter), all those guys are doing a great job helping the team and getting things done for us.
“The first couple of weeks were tough; the younger guys probably weren’t as confident as they are now,” added Mulumba. “I feel like we’ve grown more together like brothers in a family; the tough losses have made us better and more prepared for what’s ahead.”
As compliments to White out of the Beverly backfield, Peter Mulumba (348 yards, TD, 7.9 yards per carry) and Madden (313 yards, 5 TDs) have given the squad offensive balance. Jimmy Kastrinakis has been a surprise at both tackle and weak side linebacker, as have sophomores Chris Faust on the offensive line and Jake Berry on the defensive side.
Junior James Aaron has also made big contributions both at defensive end and nose tackle, and lately has been doing the same at tight end. This latter move has allowed Sam Mulumba to move inside as the Panthers’ X (i.e., slot) receiver, diversifying the offense even more.
“Last year, all the starters were in sync with each other and had been together for three years,” added Manthorne. “It took us some time, but you can tell now — no fumbles, no missed snaps from me. The offense is moving a lot more smoothly, and there aren’t as many mental errors.”