Ethan Murra Drive

Ethan Murra was one of three lettermen slated to be on the 2020 Knoxville Panther varsity golf team this season.

Coach Brian Barkey had a total of nine players show up for the Knoxville Panther Golf organizational meeting.

That is about as far as the season was played out as the pandemic virus shut the season down before it got off the ground back in March.

The Panther coach had three letter winners back to lead the way for the team in 2020.

The three were Cade McDonald, Ethan Murra and John Buttell.

In 2019 the Panthers were 44-22 and they finished the season as South Central Conference Champions. Tyler Vaske was the Conference Champion and Cade McDonald was Conference runner up individually.

Gone from the 2019 Panther squad are Vaske, Marcus Wilkins and Max Eck.

Barkey stated, “The strength of this team would have been the return of Cade McDonald who would have been the team leader and a solid No. 1 starter. He was probably a front runner for Conference Champion and a shoe-in for All Conference. I do believe that I had a really good bunch of boys to work with and I’m sure that some of the freshmen would have improved greatly with some experience as the season went on.”

The team weakness for the 2020 group was the lack of returning experience. Barkey said, “ The strength of this team would have been the return of Cade McDonald who would have been the team leader and a solid #1 starter. He was probably a front runner for Conference Champion and a shoe-in for All Conference. I do believe that I had a really good bunch of boys to work with and I’m sure that some of the freshmen would have improved greatly with some experience as the season went on.”

The weakness for the 2020 Panther group according to the coach, “McDonald and Murra had game experience, but it really dropped off after that.”

Kail Arkema, Brock Roozenboom and Beau Leisure were three freshman the coach felt would be in the fight for varsity spots.

Barkey said, “I think varsity positions 3 thru 6 would have been a dog fight and that everybody on the team had a fighting chance to make the varsity roster. It would have been interesting to see how it all played out.”

According to the Panther coach the teams to beat in the league would have been Albia and Centerville. “I think we would have been a dark horse to win the conference. We had arguably the best golfer in the conference with Cade and if Ethan played well and if a couple freshmen stepped up, we could have had a chance.”

He continued, “My expectations for this team was to build friendships and team chemistry while trying to improve the games of some of the newcomers. I knew in advance that it would be challenging at the start, but I also know that we would improve as a team as some of the younger players gained experience.”

Barkey was preparing for his 10th season as the head coach.

Perry Bell can be reached at sports@journalexpress.net or by calling the newsroom at 641-842-2155.

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