Although the season seemed short for the Bullard Panther varsity football team, several Panther players have been recognized for their achievements on the field, as well as in the classroom, on the Class 4A District 9 All-District Football Selections list, released recently.
A pack of four Panthers led the team’s prowl on the accolades list, with senior wide receiver Ty Crayton, senior punter Will McCowin, senior linebacker Brody Mullican, and junior defensive back Landry Lasseter named as Second Team All-District players.
According to statistics provided to Bullard Banner News by the Panther football coaching staff, Crayton was the favorite target for Panther quarterbacks this season, catching a total of 58 passes for 845 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.
McCowin’s leg provided the Panthers with strong kicks in an attempt to pin the opposition teams deep in their own territory. In total, the senior kicker punted 35 times in the 10-game season, collecting a total of 1,320 punting yards, with his longest coming on a 76-yard kick.
As a cornerstone for the Panther defense, Mullican proved to be a leader at the linebacker position, collecting a total of 36 solo tackles, 19 assists, one quarterback sack, and seven tackles for loss, while also forcing two fumbles with one recovery.
In the Panthers’ defensive backfield, the team relied heavily on the strong efforts of Lasseter, who collected a total of 45 solo tackles, 22 assists, and four tackles for loss, while also rising up to snag two interceptions and collecting one fumble recovery.
A host of Panther players also made the All-District list, representing the team as All-District Honorable Mention players, including senior wide receiver McCowin, senior running back Luke Bowman, senior quarterback Cleet Bowman, senior linebacker Thomas Brooks, junior offensive lineman Braeden O’Bannon, and senior offensive lineman Weston Roach.
As a receiver, McCowin was key for the Panther passing game, as Panther quarterbacks found McCowin a total of 36 times for 621 passing yards and eight touchdown. McCowin also committed one fumble in the 2017 season.
Luke Bowman’s legs were depended upon by the Panther offense on numerous occasions, as he led the Panthers’ running game with a total of 122 carries for 600 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, while committing two fumbles. He was also targeted by Panther passers as a dual threat player, catching a total of 27 receptions for 289 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown.
Under center for the majority of the snaps this season, Panther quarterback Cleet Bowman was able to lead the team, completing a total of 159 out of 279 passes, for a pass completion percentage of 56.99 percent, amassing a total of 2,312 passing yards and 25 passing touchdowns, and ending the season with a passer rating of 106. Bowman also accounted for five interceptions and was sacked 20 times.
Using his legs to provide the Panthers with opportunities down field, Bowman also collected a total of 67 carries for -20 yards and two rushing touchdowns, while committing three fumbles.
One of the Panthers’ strongholds on the defensive side of the football this season was Brooks, who led the team with 79 total tackles (59 solo tackles, 20 assists), as well as six tackles for loss and one fumble recovery.
Statistics for offensive lineman positions regarding O’Bannon and Roach in the 2017 season were unavailable.
Additionally, a total of three Panthers were recognized for their studious habits on the Academic All-State Football list, including Luke Bowman and senior running back Cade Duvak, as Academic Second Team All-State, as well as Cleet Bowman, as Academic All-State Honorable Mention.
Panther head coach Scott Callaway also honored a total of two players with team awards this season, with McCowin recognized as Bullard Utility Player of the Year, and junior wide receiver Colton Bowman as Bullard Specialist of the Year.
“I’m very proud of our players for their hard work and determination throughout this season,” said Callaway. “Any time you can get All-District honors like we have, it’s all based on the other coaches in the district recognizing the talent level we have here in our program. We would’ve liked to have seen a few more, but it’s still the honor of a lifetime to be named an All-District player by the opposing coaches.”
According to Callaway, the team was able to overcome low expectations set by many around East Texas, saying his first season was a step in the right direction on the journey to return the football program to post-season action.
“It’s not about what others say about us; it’s about what we think internally,” said Callaway. “With this year’s large group of seniors, this year was a good first step for the program to take in terms of what we’re trying to do here with the Panther football team. Once these younger players grab hold of it and get a glimpse of our vision for the program, we’ll be set. We’re already working in the off-season to prepare for next fall and working hard to meet our expectations of getting back into the playoffs.”
As members of Class 4A’s District 9 during the 2017 season, Callaway and the Bullard Panther varsity football team finished with an overall record of 3-7, 2-4 in district play, missing the cut for the UIL playoffs.