EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Austin’s skill players and defense will look pretty different in 2023. Fortunately for head coach Eric Pichardo’s Panthers, the guys paving the way are experienced.

The Panthers turned in a 5-6, second-place finish in District 1-4A Division I in 2022, but lost superstar running back/linebacker Jayden Wilson to the University of New Mexico, plus a bevy of talented skill players.

Returning for Austin in 2023 are four starting members of the offensive line and Pichardo thinks that the Panthers will be able to plug in new quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers around them and be just fine.

Wilson is one of the best players to come through Austin in recent memory and hopes to terrorize offenses in the Mountain West this year for the Lobos. Replacing him won’t be easy, but Pichardo thinks it’s possible.

“You don’t replace Jayden, but we are going to faster and more skilled overall in my opinion this year than last year,” Pichardo said. “We’ve got the offensive line and we’ll figure the rest of it out.”

Running back/linebacker Jacob Marrufo is back to be the featured player for Austin this year, as is wide receiver/defensive back Matthew Felix. Junior quarterback Anakin Torres will step in and look to lead the Panthers’ run-heavy attack.

Austin will open up the 2023 season at home on Aug. 25 vs. Fort Stockton. Tune in to the season’s first episode of 9 Overtime at 10:15 p.m. that night for the most complete high school football wrap-up show in the Borderland.