PBL’s Tyler Smith leading Panthers in first year of Illini Prairie Conference play

Local Sports

PAXTON (WCIA) — Tyler Smith has been waiting for his chance to shine. Growing up, the Paxton-Buckley-Loda senior had the perfect view of his future, his family’s backyard looks right over the PBL practice field.

“I liked watching a lot of the high school football as I grew up,” Smith said.

In his first season as the primary ball carrier for the Panthers (3-1), the 5-foot-8 tailback has put on a show, averaging 185 yards per game through four weeks. A lot of that has to do with the 25 pounds he put on since last year.

“It comes from the offseason, he’s been putting in the work in the weight room,” Paxton-Buckley-Loda quarterback Mason Bruns said. “And he just keeps on working out, doing agility. He just puts in the work every day.”

“We knew he was going to be productive this year, we just didn’t know it was going to be this productive,” Paxton-Buckley-Loda head coach Josh Pritchard said. “And I hope we can continue it for the last five games.”

“I decided I wanted to actually work hard and try my best,” added Smith. “With my lineman blocking, that’s who I rely on mostly.”

Smith’s success in the backfield has been crucial in helping the Panthers adapt to their new conference.
PBL has lost just one game, and it was on a last second touchdown scored by Bloomington Central Catholic to win 13-12 in Week 3. Despite the loss, the Panthers feel like they’ve proven they can play with the best. This week the Panthers are preparing to travel to Rantoul in the Friday Football Fever Spotlight Game of the Week.

“I had no clue really, the teams,” Smith referenced to joining the IPC. “So I was hoping for the best, hoping we were going to do good. I thought we had a good team, so I thought we were going to do good coming in.”

“I think we’ve kind of made our point that we can handle this conference,” Pritchard said. “We try and get to that five win mark because if we feel like if we get to five we’re definitely going to get in. We’ve got some tough ones coming so five is not going to be easy.”

Smith will soak up every second of the ride, living out his football dreams just steps away from where they all started.

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