Posted: Jul 16, 2014 9:44 AM
Updated: Sep 5, 2014 11:09 PM
|8 / 22||Highland||Home||Win||42 - 6|
|8 / 29||Clark County||Away||Win||34 - 0|
|9 / 5||Louisiana||Home||Win||49 - 0|
|9 / 12||Brookfield||Away||Loss||7 - 40|
|9 / 19||South Shelby||Home||Loss||34 - 35|
|9 / 26||Mexico||Away|
|10 / 3||Palmyra||Home|
|10 / 10||Monroe City||Away|
|10 / 17||Macon||Away|
|10 / 24||Districts|
The Centralia Panthers had a normal season under 21 year head coach Erle Bennett. They ran through the regular season with only one loss, they racked up points and yards each game like they knew most every defensive scheme (they averaged almost 30 points per game and piled on almost 4,000 yards for the season), while also limiting their opponents to under 10 points and 200 yards per game. The only drawback on the season was running into a tough fight against Macon in the second game of districts. In 2013 the Panthers lost their two games by combined total of just five points. The program at Centralia is second to none. Although they haven't reached the championships series in several years, the Panthers winning percentage, especially in the 2000s is almost staggering.
2014 might be a little more of a challenge to keep up with these overwhelming statistics. Coach Bennett will still have his experienced staff of Jim Newsted, Tyler Forsee, Mike Adkisson, Nathan Gordon, and Troy Motley, but they definitely will be lacking in starting experience. On either side of the ball they return only four starters, down by half from last season. Their normal routine of just reloading may be put to the test this season. Yet if history tell us anything it is that almost all athletes from top to bottom in Coach Bennett's system are ready to play every week, whether a starter or not. Coach Bennett and his staff have always stressed the fundamentals and their system is ingrained on the first day of freshman camp.
The offense is a Pistol Zone Option. This season senior Logan Armontrout will slide into the starting quarterback spot, after having played most of his time at receiver gaining almost 300 yards. He did play a little QB last season throwing for almost 300 yards. He also had almost 100 yards rushing. Senior Ethan Leighton (6-0, 185) will start at running back. "We will be solid at quarterback with Logan Armontrout and running back with Ethan Leighton," concluded Coach Bennett. The real strength and experience is on the line, where three starters return. Coach Bennett stated, "We will have good size and experience on our offensive and defensive lines." Senior Brent Dowell (6-3, 235) leads the way, but the real heart of the line might be senior Jacob Lewis (6-2, 300), who is certainly a load to move off of the line. Junior Ryan Lincoln (6-1, 220) rounds out the offensive returnees.
Defensively the Panthers were just sick in 2013. They only allowed an average of 9.8 points per game; in fact, only twice did they even allow more than two touchdowns in a game. They also limited their opponents to a meager 120 yards rushing and just over 60 yards per game passing. Stats like that take a lot of pressure off of the offense. Again though with just four returning starters, there will be a challenge for all of those athletes stepping into starting slots this year. Senior Ethan Leighton is starting at linebacker. He recorded over 50 tackles with three sacks and an interception. Also in the defensive backfield is Logan Armontrout. Junior Blake Taft (6-0, 310) will be a force on the line and catch a lot of attention. He will line up next to Brent Dowell, another returnee on the line.
Coach Bennett lists several players as those he expects to take a starting spot on either offense or defense. Jacob Gramke (5-9, 155) is a senior linebacker on defense and tight end on offense. Senior Conner Hardman (6-0, 150) is a receiver and defensive back. Another senior, Adam Herring (6-3, 285) will be a nice addition on both offensive and defensive lines. The remainder are juniors. Seth Cook (5-11, 160) will be a defensive back and wide receiver. Taylor Burton (5-8, 170) is a running back and linebacker. Nick McCoy (5-7, 135) is a receiver and DB. On the offensive and defensive lines look for Logan Ross (6-0, 235), Chase Harper (6-0, 195), and Zach Kable (6-0, 170) who will start at linebacker on defense.
There will be many new faces on the Panther starting roster come August. Although the lines appear pretty solid, the remainder of the spots are a little thin on experience. Coach Bennett stated as much when he said, "Our success will depend in large part upon developing our younger players at the skill positions." Generally speaking, it would not be a good idea to count out the Panthers regardless of who they trot out onto the field. All of the coaches have confidence that this will not be a season of regression but more of the status quo. As always they will have opponents gunning for them each week and to make it through the CCC unscathed is never an easy task. So although this may not be their best team on paper at the beginning of the season of the last several years, expect to see Centralia with a very good chance of playing into November yet again.
Pigskin's Pick: 7-2