By T. Scott Boatright
After returning significant experience in recent seasons, the Lincoln Preparatory School football team is facing different circumstances this year as the Panthers continue spring workouts.
Unlike recent springs, Lincoln Prep’s football returns little experience on offense, and especially at skill positions that will feature a new group of Panthers trying to make things happen.
“We’ve got a lot of young faces to work with right now, so I’m not sure what to expect in the spring scrimmage or even as we head into preseason practice and the start of the 2023 season,” said Panther coach Glen Hall. “Right now spring practice has mainly been about fundamentals and those things. Mainly this spring I’m just trying to get them to understand what holes to block and run through.
“But that’s not saying we don’t have talent. Looking at these kids I truly believe we probably have more talent than we’ve had the past two or three years. But we don’t have a lot of experience. If we can get through the early part of the season without letting frustrations get to us and knock us off track, then I think we could turn into something later in the season and have the chance to fool some people.”
Finding a new offensive leader is one of Hall’s early missions.At quarterback, Hall has a couple of young guns working to show they can play that role, although both will also help bolster the Panthers’ receiving corps, too.
Ninth-grader Zion Hicks is a Lincoln Prep basketball player who also got in a few snaps under center last season as an eighth grader while Mike Green is a smaller speedster who took some snaps at receiver in 2022.
“Zion’s going to be more of a drop-back, pocket quarterback while Mike is more of a sprintout quarterback,” Hall said. “Right now I’m just trying to get them used to staying in the pocket. And then we’re working on some bootleg-type stuff, too.
“Of course we’d like to have a main guy back there at quarterback, but we’ll play them both if that’s what we feel is best for the team, especially early on.”
“We don’t have the skill position players like we did last year. But we have a new guy that’s probably the best athlete on the team – his name is Cenrario Wilson,” Hall said. “And then we have a guy who didn’t get a ton of snaps last year but showed that he can help us on both sides of the ball – Trey Spann.”
Wilson, a junior who competed in the state track and field tournament in the high jump, is expected to be a big weapon for the Panthers.
The Panthers are starting from scratch at running back. Chase Huntley, who played the linebacker position last year will get carries as will Datavian Wright, who is expected to take over the role at fullback.
“They’re both straight downhill and both super quick,” Hall said. “And they’re super tough. And that’s the kind of player, offense or defense, that I want. I’m an old-school, ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’ kind of coach. So if these guys keep working, I feel good about it all.”
On the offensive line, the Panthers will finally see the return of powerhouse Jamion James, who broke ankle at Lakeside in 2021, along with Jacoby Jones at right tackle.
“He’s 6-4 and about 350,” Hall said. “And he’s getting some confidence out here. That’s something I like to see.”
While having to replace starters, the Panthers have more experience returning on defense.
Hall said it’s all going to boil down to chemistry.
“I have so many young athletes on both sides of the ball – the question is going to be how fast they can grow up? We as coaches can help that but it’s the players that can make that happen,” Hall said. “We’re so young and green, I really don’t know what to expect.
“But I do see talent. And if these guys are willing to fight and to learn. To listen and learn. It’s actually a kind of exciting group of guys. I’m proud and ready to try to lead them into 2023 and see what happens.”
The Panthers will play their spring scrimmage game at 6 p.m. today at Ringgold.