By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Forsyth posted a 14-12 record last season, falling to Fair Grove in the opening round of districts.
Head coach Eric Rogers, now entering his second season at the helm, hopes the Panthers can continue building with a more experienced squad this year.
“We were a young and inexperienced team last year,” Rogers said. “We had one returning starter — everybody else was a first-year varsity player.”
That one starter, Dawson Deroo, moves on from the program as its lone graduated senior.
“Dawson Deroo graduated and we are going to miss the confidence he brought to our team,” Rogers said. “Dawson opened up his ability to play inside as well as outside last season. He was able to defend our opponents best player due to his length and knowledge of the game.”
With only one graduate, Forsyth returns a host of key components.
The Panther attack will be led by senior Trevor Turner, junior Buck Sanders and senior Jon Deroo.
“Trevor is a natural leader, handles the ball and shoots well,” Rogers said. “He is a team player first. Buck is the engine that drives our team, and he sets the tone on defense. Jon is a great passer with a deceptively-long reach. He gets his hands on several passes and led us in steals last year.”
Seniors Nick Lumley and Jordan Letterman round out the list of returning lettermen.
“Nick has a strong paint presence,” Rogers said. “His ability to rebound the ball well keeps us in games. Jordan has a smooth, 15-foot jumper, and his length helps defend the bigs that we face.”
A trio of varsity newcomers will also look to make an impact on the roster this season.
Junior transfer Gavin Lux, sophomore Trevor Huey and junior Devyn Rains will all compete for varsity minutes.
While Forsyth returns a solid core, the lineup doesn’t contain a great deal of size — Letterman is the team’s tallest player at 6-foot-3.
Rogers aggressive, defense-minded system plays right into his team’s attributes.
“I think we surprised a few people last year by our intense style of play,” Rogers said. “We are not very big in size so we have to be scrappy. That, alone, presents us challenges when we face teams with height. We will need to be fundamentally sound when it comes to rebounding and defense. We lack size for both, but we make up for it in speed.”
Rogers expects Forsyth’s speed and experience — particularly on the perimeter — will allow for a wide-open attack fueled by a solid teamwork.
“We have several guards who can handle the ball and who can also shoot the ball well. We have built good team chemistry and we play off of each other. We have team speed and can run the floor well.”
Despite a difficult schedule full of both Mid-Lakes Conference and district opponents, Rogers is optimistic his team will be right in the thick of competition by the time postseason rolls around.
“We expect our boys to be competitive in every game we play,” Rogers said. “Like most teams, we set team goals to be competitive in conference and districts. We are in a tough Mid-Lakes conference with good teams led by good coaches.”
Forsyth opens its season Nov. 26 at Mansfield.