HS Football Preview: Century fields a mysterious yet intriguing team

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(ABC 6 News) — The Century Panthers enter the 2022 campaign with a mystery at just about every position. They are a team that’s comprised of mostly sophomores and juniors with no set starter at any skill position, or even at quarterback.

“There are some kids that are stepping up and maybe moving themselves into a number one position,” Century head coach Jon Vik said. “We’ve got great numbers at the lower levels. Our numbers at the upper levels are a little bit lower than they have been. I think it’s one of those that we evaluate it and we’ll have three or four kids that sorta step forward in one given spot and then they’ll be one or two that kinda are right there so it’s literally an evaluation every single day”

Quarterback Harrison Esau is one of those competing for the starting job. He was the backup last year but the junior moves throughout practice like someone who doesn’t want that title again and relishes his opportunity to shine.

“I’m excited man, I’ve been waiting for it ever since baseball got done,” Esau said. “I’ve just been counting down the days until the first kickoff and I think it’s starting to get competitive at practice and I think everyone is waiting for that first game.”

No matter who the starting quarterback, running back or wide receiver is, the Panthers won’t be able to be effective without a solid offensive line.

The Panthers return only a handful of seniors — and one of them is one of the captains in the trenches, Ryan Lavoi; who plays both ways but surprisingly likes being on the offensive line more.

“I like pancaking people,” Lavoi said.

Lavoi says he knows he won’t get off the field much and that’s why their conditioning is key. “Yeah, I mean when you’re hitting so many heads on every single play. You can’t be getting tired after one or two plays”

Coach Vik says his young team will have to learn on the fly but he’s optimistic. “We’ve got some talent. The character of these kids. I told the parents the other day at a meeting, I said I don’t think I’ve ever been on a team where I’ve had the door held for me so often and ‘yes sir, yes coach, thank you… That kinda stuff maybe ever.”

The Panther players say they take every game seriously but if you ask them the one they look forward to the most — it’s the crosstown “king of the city” matchup with Mayo — the team that ended their season last year.

“We gotta remember what it felt like after losing that last game because we don’t want that to ever happen again,” Esau said. “Just bring it every day and look forward to that game”

The Panthers open the season on the road at New Prague on September 2 but they will host the “king of the city” rematch against Mayo on September 16.