The number of football players out in a given season can indicate how good a team has been over the years. Delta's Panthers boast 66 players on a roster which features enough experienced players to make another run at a state title.
Delta will be in its second season in Class 2A play and has been to the state semifinal in its past two seasons.
Last year's team posted an 8-4 overall season and a 4-1 mark in the 2A Intermountain League. Delta's losses came to 3A Durango (21-20) and Palisade (41-17) before falling to 2A Bayfield (23-7) at home and Kent Denver in the Class 2A State Football Championship semifinal round.
Johnson, in his ninth season, has plenty of talent back in 2017 with a big senior class stepping up to take its turn at helping the Panthers make another state playoff appearance.
Bigs in the trenches will make the most impact for Johnson's team. Logan Church, a formidable athlete, weighs in at 255 pounds and can play both sides of the ball with authority. Josh Reeder is equally imposing at 5-11 and weighing 230 pounds who plays on the offensive line and wrecks opponents offenses from a defensive end position.
The Panthers have replaced Kole Roberts at quarterback with Drake Horn, a 5-9, 175-pounder who can run and make normal quarterback throws.
This year's backfield will not resemble last year's duo of Damon Jensen and Tristan Brown. Instead, Brendon Starr will begin the season as Delta's featured running back and Cameron Schaal is set to fill Brown's shoes at running back. Starr is speedy with good vision while Schaal can make a hole for his running mate or grind ou tough yardage when asked to do so. Both athletes are seniors who know their time has come to step up.
The Panthers opened last year's state playoffs with a 14-7 win over Faith Christian and rambled past Resurrection Christian in quarterfinal play before falling to Kent Denver (12-14) in semifinal action.
Delta's appetite for a state title is whetted after last season's success and the nagging loss to Kent Denver.
During a preliminary hearing in Delta District Court on Tuesday, Jan. 15, Judge Steven Schultz found probable cause for second degree murder charges against Heather Jones.
Jones previously faced three counts in the shooting of Ryan Redifer in Paonia on Jan. 12, 2018 -- assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree and violation of a protection order.