Summer Preview: Knox Central Bobcats

How do you replace an all-region selection and Mr. Football Finalist at that happens to be your son as well? Head Coach Joel Helton did it once before when his nephew and now starting Colorado Rockie Todd Helton moved on to be a Tennessee Vol. There's no Helton's waiting in the wings this time though.

Knox Central High School

Head Coach: Joel Helton
Mascot: Bobcats
Located: Knoxville
Class/Region: 4A, Region 3
2005 Record: 11-2, 6-1 Region

Base offense: I Formation
Base defense: "50"

2005 Schedule:

Aug. 19 at Bell County, KY W 30-15
Aug. 26 at Farragut W 21-10
Sep. 2 Knoxville Halls R W 26-14
Sep. 16 at Lenoir City R W 45-7
Sep. 23 Bearden W 55-28
Sep. 30 Maryville R L 14-17
Oct. 7 at South Doyle R W 41-6
Oct. 14 Powell R W 16-7
Oct. 21 at Clinton R W 55-7
Oct. 28 West R W 41-21
Nov. 4 Rhea Co. W 28-27
Nov. 11 at Red Bank W 35-19
Nov. 18 at Maryville L 23-33

There's lots of replacing to do on this years edition of the Knox Central Bobcats. Coach Helton and staff have graduated one of the best RB's that the school has had in David Gaston, one of the best LB's in Robert Longworth, the best kicker to ever dawn a Bobcat helmet in Lonas Seiber and arguably the best QB the school has ever produced in the head coaches son, Zach Helton.

Make no mistake about it though, this off season will be spent doing one thing more than any other. Replacing QB Zach Helton. With heir apparent Kenny Cruze moving on to become a Powell Panther this year, Coach Helton's job will not be any easier this summer and fall. The Bobcats won't get much help from the opposition either.

How does the schedule look this year:

Central is in arguably the toughest region in not just 4A, but the entire state. To make matters worse, everyone will be better this year, in a year that Central takes a bit of a slump in talent. To make matters worse, the Bobcats get only the cupcakes of Region 3 at home, while traveling to all the toughest spots to find a win.

Central does a good job of throwing in tough non-region foes such as a much improved 5A Bearden and 5A Farragut, who is always tough. Central can atttain their average of 9 wins over the last few years, but this season it will be tougher than usual.

Key games:

At Maryville.

The old cliche, "to be the man, you have to beat the man" comes to mind. Maryville has shut down Central's hopes and dreams every year for as long back as anyone can remember. The perrennial double header with the Red Rebels this season doesn't promise to be any easier, with depleted depth and lack of experience at key positions.

What will be the team strengths:

Line play and running backs. Departing senior QB Zach Helton would love ot play behind this offensive line one more year. Carter Howard, Bernard Taylor and Tyler Smith will get it done for whoever becomes the next signal caller for Cantral. With QB Kenny Cruze departing for Powell, either junior Kirk McMillan or sophomore Courtland Styles take the reigns and benefit from this group of powerful juniors and seniors. If you gotta replace a Central legend and you have limited experience, you thank your lucky stars for this O line.

The defensive line will prove to be just as tough. Led by all everything seniors DE Orlando Blair, LB Jarius Bush and LB Josh Owens, this Bobcat D unit will be fast and hostile. Look for the DB duo of Adam Bridges and Andreas Taylor to make a splash as well.

What will be the team weaknesses:

No proven QB. It's no secret that most Dad's love their sons. That's not to say Zach Helton didnt earn his way. Coach Helton's son Zach and newphew Todd hold every QB record that Central keeps records on. But, because Zach started for what seems like a decade, their hasn't been much QB development on the Bobcat squad, at least in game situations.

Best Offensive Player:

RB Jamie Wilson

Wilson managed to score 5 TD's in 2005 in mop up duty behind All Region RB David Gaston. Pretty impressive considering Gaston hardly ever came off the field. Wilson and WR Michael Nelson will be the power duo on offense for the 06 edition of the Bobcats.

Best Defensive Player:

DE Orlando Blair.

It's rare when East TN possesses arguably the three best defensive ends in the state in one calendar year, much less two in a row. Blair is definitely one of those three. He possesses that mix of speed and size that D1 coaches love. That mix helped him amass a whopping 91 tackles, 58 of those solo and 3 INT's returned for 106 yards. WOW! If you're an opposing QB in Region 3, know where this guy is...always.

Key player to a successful season:

Clark McMillan or Courtland Styles Jr.

These two QB's have HUGE shoes to fill. Not only are they replacing the 2nd greatest QB Central has ever supplied a helmet to, but they have to find a way to replace Zach Helton's intangibles too...the 30 yard runs, the magic, the tomfoolery, the creative thinking. Good luck you two.

The season will be a success if ...

The Bobcats can finish #2 or #3 in Region 3. West will emerge as a real threat for semi permanent top 3 status in Region 3 for 2006, so that only leaves two slots open in that trio. Powell will be tough again and Maryville has once again reloaded. A third place showing, although not typical for the tradition rich Bobcats, might mean they played hard thru some adversity and that they'll be ready for bear again in '07.

Tn Prep Sports prediction: 9-2

Prep Tennessee Top Stories