The Albany Panthers knew the end of the 2013 season also meant the end of the line for many of the team's key players. But that core group isn't completely lost.
The Panthers announced on Wednesday the 2014 season will see the return of 12 players from last year's team.
Of those 12, wideouts Johnny Lester, Antwontis Cutts, and John Harris, linebacker Larry Edwards and kicker Ryan Gates will all make their way back to the Albany Civic Center.
Head coach Lucious Davis says even after losing several veterans from his ballclub, it's nice to have this many returning leaders.
"Those guys can reach the guys in a way that I can't. So it's good to have those guys that have been with me for four or five years," Davis says of his returning vets. "They know what I expect. They know what I look for, so it's big to have those guys to come back."
Panthers players and coaches will be the first to tell you last season was a disappointment. They hope to correct that in 2014 by again contending for the PIFL title.
After falling short of a third straight title, this team says they're returning with a new found focus
"We didn't play up to our ability last year, and a lot of those guys know it," Davis says. "They called, they want to play, they're working out now harder than they did going into last season."
The league has added two teams for this season, with another potentially on the way.
The Panthers hope to release their 2014 schedule soon.
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