Big numbers, big lines and big hopes; those three phrases describe the 2020 Centralia Panthers Football Team.
More than 90 showed up for the first days of practice said first year head coach and CHS alumnus Tyler Forsee.
Intense practices and Corona virus concerns have whittled that number to 87, still one of the biggest teams the Panthers have fielded in recent history.
Last season the Panthers were the Clarence Cannon Conference champions, finishing with a 10-1 record.
This year returning offensive and defensive starter Beau Gordon will run the offense at quarterback. A position he played last year, along with several other skill positions on both sides of the ball.
Points, lots of them and balance is what Forsee expects from the Panther offense this season.
He said fans will see the Panthers scoring on the ground and in the air.
“Lots of people,” he said, when asked who would be catching Gordon’s passes.
This year’s Panther receiving corps includes, but is not limited to: Liam Hill, Max Hunter, Jackson Wells, Nathan Greene and Mason Barr. “We’ve got a lot of guys who can catch the ball and run the routes,” Forsee said.
When asked about the ground game, who would be taking it through, around or over opposing teams’ defensive line, he immediately responded with one name. “Max Hunter, he’s back, he’s in great shape and ready to meet our high expectations.”
Along with that balanced offense: “We will spread peoples’ out and throw the ball long and deep as well as intermediate distances,” Forsee said fans of Panther football could expect a very aggressive defense.
“It will be an aggressive, attack defense, that will keep the other teams under pressure on their heels,” he said. “Some might call it a multiple, it will change week to week, depending on the looks we get of the opposing teams.”
Forsee, who coached college football for two years at Culver Stockton, is starting his 14th year as a football coach and his first as head coach of the Panthers.
This year he will be coaching a team with 18 seniors and said it could make a big difference.
“That’s a good number and it is making for some strong competition for positions, especially on the lines,” he said.
Among those returning seniors are a few familiar names: Xaden Lockett, Sam Lynn, Luke Hunter, Ethan Jones and Adam Hatton.
Hunter, he said, will do the extra-point, kick off and field-goal honors. Don’t expect too many views of the last though. “I’d rather go for six,” Forsee said when asked about field goals.
The team has two newcomers who might see some varsity time on the line, he said, Aiden and Ben Forrest who transferred in from the Paris School District.
Regarding this year’s team captions, he said they would be rotating positions. “It is an honor that will change week-to-week.”
visit City, Macon, they will be a tough trio this season,” he said. Expect the Panthers to be ready for them. “The coaches and I have high expectations for the kids this season. They’ve been doing a great job of training and bringing enthusiasm to every practice. Come to the games, when we play you’ll see high-energy football.”