Eric Jones, better known for his Linebacker work, is waging a battle to win the Panthers starting QB nod against Zach Rankin


THE SKINNY: The Panthers return a half dozen starters on each side of the football from a team that finished 7-3 last Fall, but got turbo-clocked on its Home Field in the first round of the playoffs by arch-rival Carrollton. There haven't been many off-key moments in Brad Dixon's stellar (56-13 record...geez) tenure in Camp Point but that beat was so bad that the Panther Skipper had one of his guys snap a picture of the final scoreboard and Brad has looked at it every day since as motivation in trying to get the program back to its WIVC Four Peat level of dominance.

WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS: I'm no Ansel Adams but it was truly a "no-skills required" photography "goldmine" in Camp Point on Tuesday Morn with the sun coming up behind in the East and an eerie looking layer of fog enveloping much of the practice field. You can still see the shot on my Twitter feed; which looked a bit like the conditions of a South African Safari, rather than Adams County.

BEEFY: The first thing you'll notice about this Central Panther squad is the rare infusion of size on the Offensive Line. The Offense boasts a pair of 250 veteran tackles in Landon Moore and Mathew Kestner, as well incoming beef from Remington Buehler (315lb Sophomore) and Kollen Hughes (285lb Junior) To this point, however, the most critical part of that equation may be "the little guy" Bryce Flesner. The 180 pound junior has drawn rave reviews from his coaching staff for stepping in seamlessly at guard and helping to quell some of the hand-wringing over the graduation losses of stud Guards Keaton Heinecke and Devin Cassens.

THE CONTROVERSY THAT WASN'T: Central does in fact have a quarterback battle brewing between Eric Jones and Zach Rankin; it's just not at all acrimonious. As the classy Junior Jones told me on Tuesday "honestly, we are interchangable." Both are going to have a role on the offense, regardless who wins the starting spot opening night and Brad Dixon says both will likely get platoon work there at some point. Jones has the liver arm. Rankin has more polish and escape ability. Both will be just fine. Good players each with a firm understanding of the team dynamic and that is to be applauded.

THE MAN: Cole Williams was a 305 yard complimentary piece in the backfield last season. He's the focal point now, a fact not lost on ever defensive coordinator who faces this crew moving forward. He's really versatile and runs much stronger than his 180 pounds would suggest, especially for a "burst" guy. The Panthers will mix and match around him. The Devon Buss "hulking Fullback" days are over as Central goes with speed options there, both in the irrepressible Noah Strohkirch (everyone's favorite heart guy) and Jaycob Rowland. The Panthers showcased all kinds of Wing Backs while I was in the house, all with something to offer in Chase Norfolk, Wilson Stotts (who had a really nice day on Tuesday) Chayse Houston among them. It's a equation where the sum is more than the parts; and consider there are good parts here to boot.

FIVE ALIVE: It's Central. Linebacker will always bee a strength and it is again this season with four holdovers. Strohkirch is 150 pounds of pure battle. Reed Olson is having a great camp and his rangy nature fills a void at OLB. Eric Jones (60 tackles, 3 sacks in 2016) will play the heavy here. Houston is the run down guy with a wrestler's finishing ability. Same as it ever was here.

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