Pekin eyes state berth on 20th anniversary of title

The Pekin football team has nine seniors this season, and while that number is low for the Panthers, Head Coach Bud Blakely knows that sometimes it?s about quality over quantity.

?I want every kid that wants to come out here and play with us on the team,? said the third year coach who recently returned to his alma mater. ?But this group has a lot of experience and some years the numbers just dip like this.?

After getting their team photo taken Thursday for media day, the nine Panthers found a spot to relax in the shade and talk about their careers and the upcoming season.


Connor Reed

defensive lineman and tight end


What are you most

excited about?

Being a senior and being able to lead the whole team while being a family.



Win games as a team and win the district.


Can you make noise on the 20 year anniversary of the last Pekin state championship team?

It?s always a dream, but this year we?re going to make it there.(The UNIDome for the final four)


Biggest memory

Tackling Carson Crawford in the end zone last season.



Lathe Corchet

wingback and cornerback


Most excited about?

Just playing football.


Biggest memory?

Keeping New London out of the playoffs.


Personal goals?

Working on route running.



Hunter Conger

strong guard and nickel linebacker


?I?m most excited to just lead the team.?


Type of leader?

I?m trying to be more vocal and help the guys with the small things.



All-state linebacker, beat Sigourney and win the district.


Best memory

Beating the Cobras last year.



Levi Olinger

offensive and defensive tackle


What do you do to maintain your All-GTNS level of play?

Keep it up and don?t be content with what I have. I?m working on getting my first step right and getting my hands into the defender, stuff that people dont think about.


Best memory?

Beating Sigourney because as freshman and sophomores we played them and it wasn?t even close so it was nice to put up a lot of points.


Personal goals?

Earn all-state offensive tackle, beat sigourney again and win the state title.


Type of leader?

I?m not much of a talker, I am more likely to show you how to do it.



Tanner Bainbridge

linebacker and running back


Best moment?

Beating sigourney after all the hype surrounding the game.


You were all-GTNS at baseball, where does football fall as far as your loves?

It?s not my favorite, but I love being with the team.


Personal goals?

50 tackles and beat Mediapolis.


Type of leader?

Vocal. I try to be energetic and let everyone know whats happening in the game.



Zach Hammes

mike linebacker and fullback


Fav moment?

Thursday nights before the game. All the parents bring this Oreo fluff.


What are you looking forward to about this season?

Using the knowledge I?ve learned over the last two years.

I switched positions and I?m finally catching my stride and learning how to run the ball better.



1,000 yards rushing and outscore opponents by 10 points each. (Rest of seniors start laughing)


Why are they


(Connor says it?s because Hammes is a fullback trying to rush for 1,000 yards)


If a school could rush for 1,000 yards from the fullback spot, wouldn?t it be Pekin?

We?re a power house team, we always run the ball.


What will you miss most?

The people around here



Tugg Hill

quick tackle, tight end and cornerback


Best moment

I had an open field tackle last year on punt team versus Davis County.


Most excited about?

Playing new teams and getting new looks.


Who are you most

excited to play?

Mediapolis, I just really want to beat them.


Personal goals

Make sure I know my new positions.

I?m working on stepping with the right foot and being in sync with the offensive line.


Confidence level?

75-percent. We just need to keep working.



Hunter Lucas

offensive and defensive lineman


Most excited about?

Being a senior and a leader.


Type of leader?

Vocal and friendly but loud leader


Best highlight

Beating New London


Personal goals

Go undefeated as a team.


Confidence you can run the table?

80-percent. We just need to keep working.



Caleb Comstock

quarterback and defensive back


Fav memory

It was really tough, but we stuck together to beat New London.


?This is our last go around and we?re putting everything into it.?


Any pressure being the Panther QB?

If the whole team just comes together to do their job, it all works out.



Not really any numbers, but I do want to throw for three touchdowns in at least one game.

I want to rush for more yards, I?m not the best mover but I can still get out and run.

If nobody?s open I?ll take off and get what I can.


What?s up with this Oreo fluff?

It?s amazing, I love it!