ALBANY — The 2011 league champion Albany Panthers took the first steps on the road to a Professional Indoor Football League title run by getting onto the field for their first practice of training camp at Albany High School over the weekend.
Veteran quarterback Cecil Lester looked to get into a rhythm with his receiving corps that included the likes of returning stars and former Americus standouts Antwon Cutts and John Harris, former Westover star Antwone Savage, as well as newcomers Antonio Bearden, Fred Cromartie and Elliott Finkley.
Training camp next moves over to Phoebe Field at the Albany James H. Gray Civic Center starting next Tuesday and will stay there through March 8. After that, the Panthers will return to practicing at Albany High School until March 10.
The Panthers will spend the next three weeks preparing for their 2012 season opener against the Richmond Raiders on Phoebe Field at the Albany James H. Gray Civic Center on March 17 at 7:30 p.m.
EXPERIENCE PAYS OFF: Lester (6-foot-1, 220 pounds, Fort Valley State) was a member of the af2 South Georgia Wildcats (2007-09) before joining the Panthers for the 2010 campaign and leading the team to the title in the Southern Indoor Football League, which has since been disbanded. The 2011 season was the second full season as a starter for the quarterback, and Lester made the most of it.
Throwing for 2,626 yards and 64 touchdowns, while completing 57 percent of his passes, the Panthers made the playoffs on the arm of Lester. His season was highlighted by his performance against the Louisiana Swashbucklers in the championship game as he completed 30-of-35 passes for 263 yards and 10 touchdowns, earning him MVP honors.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“I’m here for one thing — to get another ring.”
Newly signed Panthers defensive back during his first meeting this weekend with his team, which he joined after spending the last season with Albany’s biggest rival, the Columbus Lions.