Mentor Brad Panto lone senior on Catasauqua’s offensive line
On the football field, Brad Panto sees the big picture and deals with his share of challenges.
He understands patience.
Off the field, he will endure one of his biggest challenges when he begins service in the United States Army after graduation.
As a result, the senior is well aware of his team’s plight this season as they end their season against archrival Northampton this week.
“It takes time to turn this around,” Panto said. “You don’t do it over night with new coaches and a new system.
“We put up two scores against Northwestern in our last game and they beat Saucon Valley. We knew could play with teams and it was fun when we beat Wilson. If a couple of things went our way, the season would have been different.”
The lone senior lineman, Panto soon undertook a mentor role.
“We have a lot of freshman and sophomores out there,” he said. “They have been very receptive and have been getting better every week. It takes a while and they are doing a good job.”
“Helping the younger guys along really helped me grow as a person.
Overall, Panto knew it would be a rigorous task ahead.
“It was a challenge,” he said. “Other teams go into the offseason strengthening things they know.
“Andrew Martinez has been playing quarterback for the first time and has been doing a good job in an option offense. Our running backs aren’t used to this.
“Now all of us have done a good job with it.”
Head coach Mike McClarin saw an instant leader.
“The players listen and follow Brad,” said McClarin. “He had an instant connection and is the hardest worker on the team. He has a ton of energy and literally runs home from practice. He is a great leader and is all over the field for us.”
Panto recalls his first Thanksgiving Day as a freshman when he made a tackle right after he entered the game.
“I used to hear my name called and usually got in on special teams,” he recalled. “I was just standing there not expecting to play and they called my name. When I made the tackle, I knew I would never forget it.”
From there, Panto began to play more of role on defense from his middle linebacker spot, eventually calling the signals during his junior year.
Panto would like to enlist in the reserves for two years and then transfer to active duty in the army. He eventually envisions himself in a law enforcement career. Panto’s older brother, Nick, graduated from Catasauqua in 2012, and he played four years in the program.
He does have plans for college next year, and likely will try and be a walk-on.
“I will play wherever they put me,” said Panto about next season. “It is about me playing wherever I can get on the field.
“To do that (enlist in the army) always has been a dream of mine,” said Panto. “Both of my grandfather were in the service, and they were an inspiration to me.”
Against Northampton, Panto plans to leave his mark.
“I want to make it a special day,” he said. “We are all very anxious and we can play well.”