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The Caney Creek Panthers look to move up from their No. 14 spot in the Houston Area 4A countdown. This story is part of the premium package, available to exclusive readers. With the offseason warming up, now is a good time to get the inside scoop on the best in college and prep athletics.

Glen Hill turned what was a 1-9 Caney Creek team in 2005 to an eight-win squad that reached the Region III, Division I quarterfinals last season. Now comes the hard part: returning to the postseason.

Losing a 1,700-yard rusher like Alex Teich will be a challenge, but the Panthers do bring back QB Joe Simmons to lead the offense. Simmons ran for nearly 1,000 yards last season and should eclipse the barrier in 2007. Bud Davis is the likely choice to take the bulk of the carries left behind by Teich.

The Panthers don't throw much, but WR/DB Taylor Bynum is expected to be the featured receiver.

Caney Creek will have experience returning on the offensive line, as all-district 18-4A first team member Trenton Smith returns to anchor the unit. Fellow lineman John Latz and center Doug Peak made the all-district second team and are valuable keys to the offense's success.

Defensively, the strength of the Panthers will be in the secondary, where Bynum will be one of the district's top corners, and hard-hitting safety Terrance Griffith brings athleticism and a all-district first team honor back. Griffith could also see action on the offensive end as well.

DT John Warren is the top defender returning on the defensive line. The Panthers will have to replace linebackers Matt Freund and Jason Schrive, who both were all-district first team members last season.

In a district that features state title contender Brenham and Huntsville, Waller and Montgomery capable of making postseason runs, the Panthers will need their defense to step up and take some of the pressure off Simmons and the offense. If so, Caney Creek can make a run for life beyond Week 10 of the regular season.

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