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Osceola renews Smith's contract, declares Panui franchise player

October 6, 2006 - World Indoor Football League 2 (WIFL 2) - Osceola Ghostriders News Release

ORLANDO, Fla. - The Osceola Ghostriders announce they have renewed the contract of Head Coach Marquette Smith.

After a strong 8-6 showing last season, Smith returns to patrol the sidelines once again in 2007.

"Our focus this year will be discipline, team moral, top-notch conditioning and fundamentals to achieve our goal of winning a championship,'' said Smith "I am excited about the team with a great new league and good group of guys coming in."

"Marquette did a great job last year putting a winning team on the field to represent our fans,'' said General Manager Jordan Bartels. "We hope to build on last season's success and bring home a championship to Osceola."

Osceola will also welcome back wide receiver James Panui. After leading the team in receiving yards and contributing 14 touchdowns, Panui is setting his sights on the ultimate team goal in 2007.

"I do not have any personal goals,'' Panui said. "Along as the team is winning, I am happy. I will do whatever it takes for us to win. Winning a championship is what is most important."

The 5-foot, 8-inch Panui will be dubbed as the Ghostriders' "Franchise Player."

"James is our most versatile player," Smith said. "He can play running back, quarterback, wide receiver, kick returner and he is the holder for the kicking unit. He is a great kid who is an all around team player."

Panui played his high school ball in Germany while his father was in the Army.

"It was tough to get noticed (by Division I football coaches) over there, so when my family moved to Florida, I decided to try and walk on at UCF."

While a roster spot with the Golden Knights remained elusive, an opportunity to play professionally was well within reach for Panui. A fan favorite at the Silver Spurs Arena, Panui has led his team in receiving each of the last two seasons.

The Ghostriders will compete in the newly formed World Indoor Football League (WIFL) and will play a fourteen game schedule. The Ghostriders will kick off the 2007 season in February, with all home games played on IOA Field at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.

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