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2017 KHQA Barnstorm Tour-Stop 10: CENTRALIA PANTHERS

Entering his second season as Centralia's starting Quarterback, Clayton Simkins looms large as weapon in the Panthers loaded backfield

KHQA BARNSTORM NOTES FROM THURSDAY'S VISIT WITH THE PANTHER

THE SKINNY: For the first time in 24 years, the perennially powerful Panthers go to battle with someone other than Hall of Famer Erle Bennett as their leader. Long time Offensive Line Coach Jim Newsted gets the promotion and inherits 11 starts from a team that went 9-4 last season. Seven of those returning players are Offensive pieces, including the entirety of his offensive backfield.

FUN FACT: Our visit on Thursday with Jim was his first ever TV Interview. As I mentioned on Twitter, Coach Newsted has a great, echoing bellow reminiscent of long time area Basketball Coach Mike Fray. It's also tough to tell at this point who has the better goatee working in the Cannon: Jim or Macon Boss Pete Claas. Toss up at this moment.

NO HALFWAY ABOUT IT: Centralia's Halfback Combination of Kaiden Davenport and Trey Owens is really fun. Davenport had only 33 carries last season in the Panthers by-committee approach but can really turn the corner and has great hands catching the football. Owens is a burner who gets to top speed quickly and plays far tougher than his listed 150 pounds. You'd be happy as a coach to have either. Both? Man, I'd hate to have to account for these two on every play.

HOLD THE DORMAN: After splitting time at Fullback with Klayton Marty last season, Tyler Dorman gets the slot all to himself this Fall. He's a little different cut from Marty, who was a hulking human battering ram. Dorman is a streamlined 200 pounds, super tough, and brings a dimension of speed to the Fullback slot (Track Season Sprinter no less) that should really work nicely here. Obviously, Thursday was a non-contact day but just from profile, Tyler seems like a kid who his tough to get a clean hit on.

HOLD THE LINE: It's Centralia. They are always big and well coached up front. I only saw Centralia once in person last season and three times on film. I really liked Zane Torreyson at Guard a ton every time I saw him play. Good size at 6'1" 240 and great push. He, Center Brett Huffington, and Tight End Brad Kaiser all are veteran starters who will anchor the line.

HOLD THE SIMKINS: Okay, yeah, that riff doesn't work as well but I thought Centralia's Second Year Quarterback looked very sharp throwing the football on the run in drills. After some growing pains last year, Newsted says the game has slowed down for Clayton and that he's paid the price to get stronger in the off-season.

SLEEPERS: Caden VanSkike will get run at Linebacker and has unselfishly made the move to Offensive Line from Fullback to help shore up a position of need. Jim Newsted raved about his ease in making a difficult transition...and about his selflessness. Sophomore Grafton Litrell is a deeper sleeper who has already turned heads at both Running Back and Linebacker. Me? I'm a huge fan of Trey Owens as a hybrid Linebacker who gets to fly all over the field and deck people, Centralia excels at cultivating those type of undersized Backers who post 80-120 tackles every year. Trey feels like that guy.

MIDNIGHT MADNESS: Had I known in advance that Jim Newsted was re-instituting the practice of Midnight Madness to greet First Contact at 12:01am on Saturday, I would have waited to Barnstorm Centralia until then. How cool is that? I am sucker for that kind of thing.


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