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Powerful Bobcats to storm Farragut Stadium

Even by Knoxville Central’s high standards, the buzz in local and area high school circles says coach Joel Helton’s 2005 Bobcats are supposed to be special in 2005.

“They’re a very explosive, big play-type offensive team,” Farragut High School head coach Eddie Courtney said about the Class 4A power, which visits Farragut Stadium beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday night in the Admirals’ season opener.

Central senior quarterback Zach Helton, the coach’s son, is a four-year starter who combines experience and talent.

“Zach’s a very athletic young man, and a son of a coach ...,” Courtney said. “We’ve got to keep him contained because he’s a threat running and throwing the football.”

Central bases its offense out of the I-formation, “and sometimes they’ll put Zach in shotgun and go three wideouts, four wideouts.” Athletically, “they’ve got some fullbacks and tailbacks …,” Courtney added about a backfield running group led by David Gaston. “According to what we hear he’s been banged up a little bit … He’s still not one-hundred percent yet.”

But Gaston managed 70 yards on 16 carries in a 23-15 victory at Bell County, Ky., last Friday. “He’s a hard-nosed runner, he can get good yards up the middle for you. And they’ve got a couple of good tailbacks, so they’re a very balanced team.”

In terms of speed, “where they hurt you sometimes is just breaking a play back across the grain, they can make a big play,” Courtney said.

Defensively, standout Bobcat linebackers A.J. Nance and Robert Longworth, “They’re around the football, they’re very aggressive,” Courtney said. “Their front guys do a good job of keeping linemen off them and let them run to the football.”

Though of huge value to the Bobcat offense, Helton is simply too good as a safety to leave off the Central defense. “He’ll come up and make hits .... he can see the whole field and eliminate big plays from the opponents,” Courtney said.

Given that Farragut’s offensive line features many new faces in the starting lineup, and given that a quarterback hasn’t pulled away the starting job, is there concern about the Ads moving the ball?

“I think we’ve made improvement each week,” Courtney said, adding that recent scrimmages have been an attempt to prepare younger players for key backup roles. “We know the first couple of weeks it’s going to be hot,” the coach said. “We’re trying to get a lot of kids on the field … so we can rest some guys.”

As of Monday, the starting quarterback job “is still wide open” between senior Tyler Powell and junior Michael Lawrence.

“We’ll probably play one of ’em a couple of series, and the next one come in on the third series and go from there,” Courtney said. “In one way I wish we had already designated a starter, but we just think it’s too close to tell right now.”

Saying his defense is ahead of the offense going into the opener, “Some of that is just because they’ve got a few more guys over there with experience from last year,” Courtney said.


“Offensively, just us being able to control the football and not have any turnovers,” Courtney said about Farragut’s keys to success. “The more we keep their offense off the field, the more we’re productive and gaining positive yards … gives us a better chance.”

The FHS skipper said the offensive gameplan won’t necessarily be conservative, but “the first couple of series we won’t go out and do things that would cause a big turnover.”

Defensively for the Ads, “I think you’ve gotta contain ’em because they’re a good outside type of team, a sprint-out team, so you can’t let ’em have the sidelines and run outside of you,” Courtney said. “You’ve got to try to force ’em to mix it up some and stay inside as well. … and not ask (our team) to gamble too much and hopefully play enough kids to stay fresh.”


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