Dr. Phillips cheerleader ditches poms for rushing quarterbacks in spring

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  • | 1:30 a.m. April 9, 2015
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DR. PHILLIPS — Stepping off the sidelines and under the lights, Shannon Knight has gone from varsity cheerleader for Dr. Phillips to an impact player for the school’s girls flag football team.

Described as the “Energizer Bunny” by her coach, Markcus Coke, Knight is constantly on the go. Her effort toward flag football is non-stop — despite a recent injury that nearly derailed her senior season before it began.

“I got injured in August; I dislocated and fractured my shoulder,” Knight said. “I’m fortunate enough to be able to be out on this field. I’m blessed to actually be able to play. It’s emotional, but I’m so happy that I was able to play my senior year.”

That joy in simply being able to play and represent her school has manifested itself well for the team. Knight has become the glue for the Panthers (3-2) this spring.

“Her attitude, her effort — I know I can always count on her to go hard all the time,” Coke said. 

According to Coke, Knight is a tough player who leads by example. With three years of experience, the senior wide receiver/rusher has been able to guide the team and set a standard.

“You’re in the best position as a coach when your best players are (also) your hardest workers,” Coke said. “Because if they’re doing things right, then what is anybody else going to say?”

During the span of Knight’s three-year career on the team, the Panthers have won the district title every year — as well as two additional district titles predating her time on campus — making for a five-year span of dominance. 

Dr. Phillips is off to a solid start in 2015, though their most recent loss was against one of the team’s main rivals, the Oak Ridge Pioneers. The Panthers fell 19-0 at home to the Pioneers, a team that is possibly one of the area’s best, and the game was mercy-ruled with two minutes remaining — a decision Coke did not support.

“All of a sudden, it’s over, and we’re mercy ruled,” Coke said. “I felt like we were in the game the whole time.”

Although he was disappointed with the outcome of the game, Coke was proud of the effort put forth by his team both against Oak Ridge and throughout the season.

“Our effort has been good all year; our attitude has been good all year,” he said.

Being new to coaching flag football, Coke said he is learning new aspects of the game every week. To move forward with their season, he will be preparing the team to handle unexpected or new plays and formations by opponents.

“There’s some things that (Oak Ridge) did tonight that we haven’t seen an offense do, and we weren’t prepared for them,” he said. “So we’re going to prepare for those in case we see them again or we play them again; we’ll be ready.”

Knight is optimistic about the remainder of the season and pursuing a fourth district championship.

“I feel like we are escalating quickly,” Knight said. “We are getting there, I feel like we will be at our peak by districts, hopefully.”

The Panthers will host Olympia on April 9 at 7 p.m.


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