Massaponax (Fredericksburg, VA) is 8-0 so far in the 2013 season and currently sits atop the 5A North rankings. These accomplishments are made all the more impressive when you consider the injuries the Panthers have had to overcome. The most recognizable player to go down as far as Virginia Tech fans are concerned is defensive end/offensive tackle Vinny Mihota , a top recruit who will enroll at Tech in January of 2014. The 6’4″, 250-pound senior has missed every game since suffering a broken bone in his left foot in a September 6 win over Albemarle.
In addition to losing Mihota, senior running back Javonte Latney, who rushed for 1,334 yards his junior season, suffered a torn outer meniscus in his left knee in the preseason. He has been able to play but has obviously been less than 100-percent. And more recently, senior wide receiver/cornerback/return specialist Tony Barnett suffered a sprained knee in a win over Riverbend on October 4.
Panthers head coach Eric Ludden is proud of the resilience his team has shown so far in 2013.
“This is something you never anticipate. We knew a lot of guys were coming back, but this year guys have just kept going down,” Ludden said. “Our reaction to it has been pleasant to see.”
One of the real pleasant surprises of the 2013 season has been the play of defensive lineman/offensive lineman Steven Sobczak . The 6’2″, 300-pound senior put in excellent work this offseason, dropping weight and getting in great shape for his fourth and final year on the varsity level.
“I would say, starting around January (of 2013), this to me has probably been one of the greatest senior year’s I’ve coached,” Ludden said of Sobczak. “Steven has improved a ton. He has improved on his technique. He improved his physical conditioning. He finally figured out what he needed to do. Steven really does well for us on both sides of the ball, which is something we couldn’t do with him in the past. He keeps the team loose, but he also sets the standard of how to play.”
Sobczak, who will either play defensive tackle or on the interior offensive line on the major college level, verbally committed to James Madison this past summer. Virginia Tech offered a grayshirt opportunity during the summer, meaning Sobczak would sign with the Hokies in February of 2014 but not actually enroll until January of 2015.
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