If success really does breed success, the Antioch High football team could be in line for a big step forward this season.
The Panthers made the North Coast Section Division I playoffs in 2011, their first appearance in the postseason since 2002. They finished the season 6-5, and headed into the offseason with a ton of momentum.
Now, it's up to this year's group to make sure that progress keeps moving forward.
"The atmosphere's been great," Antioch coach John Lucido said. "After last year having some success, we have some juniors coming back that were a big part of that success. I think they're rubbing off on the sophomores coming in."
Now entering his third year at the helm, Lucido's transformation of the Antioch offense is, for the most part, complete. The no-huddle spread he installed when he took over is now the norm for the Panthers.
"It's been a slow process," Lucido said. "The first year was trying to get them to buy in and know where they're at on the field with the fast tempo. Now, they expect it. They know what we do and why we do it."
To further develop those offensive tendencies, Lucido has the luxury of turning to a returning starter at quarterback. Hunter Karnthong is back to run the Panthers' offense, and he'll play the role of field general in Antioch's fast-paced offense.
"He's matured a lot being a team leader," Lucido said. "He does everything full speed. He rubs off on the younger guys."
The Panthers have also had some important bragging rights this offseason. Thanks to 42-28 win over Deer Valley, Antioch re-claimed the Mayor's Cup for the first time since 2003.
"There was a good team bond (last year) and I think that''s what the seniors are doing with the younger guys," Lucido said.
The Panthers opened the 2012 season with 49-7 win over Franklin-Stockton. They next head to Northgate to take on the Broncos on Aug. 31 at 7 p.m.
8/24 FRANK.-STOCK. W 49-7
8/31 at Northgate 7 p.m.
9/7 at G. Valley-Merced 7 p.m.
9/14 DOUGHERTY VALLEY 7 p.m.
9/28 at Mt. Diablo 7 p.m.
10/5 at Deer Valley* 7 p.m.
10/12 HERITAGE* 7 p.m.
10/19 at Freedom* 7:30 p.m.
10/26 LIBERTY* 7 p.m.
11/2 PITTSBURG* 7 p.m.