Core of Panthers' stars retiring - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Core of Panthers' stars retiring

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QB Cecil Lester QB Cecil Lester
DB Demetrie McCray DB Demetrie McCray
WR Clenton Rafe WR Clenton Rafe

WALB has learned Panthers' QB Cecil Lester, WR Clenton Rafe, FB Derrick Wimbush, and DB Demetrie McCray are retiring.

The group of stars were a part of a core that took Albany indoor football to an elite level.

In four years, the team has gone 39-15, and made the playoffs each year. They lost only three games at home during that stretch.

The run was highlighted by back-to-back league titles in 2011 and 2012.

But now it seems a large portion of that core is moving on.

"We had a great ride for four years," Panthers head coach Lucious Davis says. "But they say all good things must come to an end. Right now, this is the end."

Lester played eight seasons of indoor football. In his final season, Lester totaled 69 TDs, with 61 of them coming through the air.

One of his favorite targets while in Albany was WR Clenton Rafe.

Rafe is walking away after six seasons.

In 2013, Rafe battled injuries and only played in seven games. Somehow, he still grabbed 14 TD receptions, good for third on the team.

Wimbush only played three seasons with the Panthers, but was always popular with the Albany fans.

The Fort Valley St. product played three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars before eventually joining the Panthers.

He is hanging up his cleats after tying for the team lead in rushing and scoring six TDs in 2013.

McCray was one of the defensive leaders on this Panthers' team.

In 2013, his seventh season, McCray finished third on the team with 31 tackles.

But Davis says it isn't the talent of this group the Panthers will miss most.

"You can go out and try to find talent that will improve your team. The things that those guys brought to the table you can't replace," he says. "You can't replace the leadership, you can't replace their experience, their knowledge of the game."

The Panthers are also losing WR Antwone Savage, who retired in June after breaking his leg.

Davis says he and GM Will Carter will begin to evaluate the team's roster and make the necessary moves to get the Panthers back to the playoffs.

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