They’re off and running.
The LaGrange College Panthers, with a new season less than three weeks away, are in the midst of their first full week of preseason practice.
The Panthers held their first practice on Friday, and they’ll go at it hard leading up to the season opener on Sept. 7 at Birmingham Southern.
For the first time in the history of the program, someone other than Todd Mooney is leading the Panthers in preseason practice.
Matt Mumme, who took over the program with three games remaining in the 2013 season, is heading into his first full season as the Panthers’ head coach.
Before Mumme took over, Mooney had been the team’s only head coach since the program played its first game in 2006.
“I’m blessed and excited about the opportunity I’ve been given,” Mumme said during the USA South conference’s media day. “I’m excited about some of the things we did in 2013 and trying to carry it forward into 2014.”
Mumme joined the LaGrange College staff as the offensive coordinator before the 2013 season, and he oversaw one of the country’s most prolific offenses in NCAA Division III.
Mumme guided the Panthers to a 2-1 record in their final three games, and they finished at 5-5.
With quarterback Graham Craig leading the way, the Panthers averaged 32 points per game.
Craig averaged an NCAA Division III-best 357 passing yards per game.
The Panthers return 18 starters from last year’s team, including Craig.
While the Panthers won’t play their first game until September, they’ll get a chance to face another team for the first time on Thursday.
LaGrange College will travel to Mississippi to play Belhaven (Miss.) in a scrimmage game.
Belhaven is coached by Matt Mumme’s father, Hal Mumme, the former head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats.
LaGrange College will make its home debut on Sept. 13 against Berry College.
The Panthers begin their USA South schedule on Sept. 20 at Greensboro (N.C.), and their final eight regular-season games are all against conference foes.
The Panthers went 5-3 in the conference a year ago, and they were picked to finish fifth this year in a preseason poll voted on by the conference’s head coaches.