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Sunday, April 21, 2024

2020 Preview: CD East

By Adam Kulikowski: 

Coach: Aaron Blanding

Classification: 6A

Division: Commonwealth

2019 season: 3-7 (2-5 Commonwealth)

Postseason: Did not qualify


Key Players: Kyle Williams, sr., OL-DL; Levi Krebs, sr., TE-LB.

Outlook: Predicting what to make of the Panthers in a year when Aaron Blanding and his assistants had little time to assess a roster that will feature new playmakers at virtually every skill position is nearly impossible. What we do know is that the Commonwealth — stocked with state title contenders in Central Dauphin and State College — will be a street brawl during a seven-game sprint to the regular season finale.

3 Things to Know:

1. Battle at quarterback: Sophomore Aidan Campbell and a pair of seniors, Romeo Fleck and Max Riley, entered camp battling for the starting role in Blanding’s offense. While Campbell might have an edge based on the experience he enters camp with from 2019, Fleck has impressed in his early opportunities. Each gunner offers a little different skill set, according to Blanding. “Aidan is more of a pocket guy,” Blanding said. “He is 6-3, strong arm. Romeo gives us a little bit of both. He’s a running threat and his arm isn’t quite as strong as Aiden’s. Max is just a leader. He’s a fun guy who can wing it. They all bring something different to the table.” Whoever trots out with the starters Friday night will benefit from an experienced offensive line that returns a full complement of big eaters including senior Kyle Williams, a Mid-Penn Commonwealth Division All-Star in 2019.

2. From the hardwood to the turf: If you follow CD East basketball, you likely have heard of Terrance Jackson. The 6-foot sophomore joined Blanding’s Panthers as a wide out for the 2020 campaign, potentially providing a spark to an offense in search of playmakers. “He’s been looking really good,” Blanding said. “Being a basketball player, that’s a real advantage. It transfers well to football as he goes up to get the ball. He’s athletic, got good size and talent and aggressiveness. That’s something we can’t teach.”

3. Ever-changing schedules: COVID-19 is already playing havoc on the schedules of several Mid-Penn Conference teams. That includes CD East. The Panthers’ scheduled a joy ride to Governor Mifflin on Friday night never got in gear because GM closed their high school and suspended all sports through Sept. 28 due to confirmed cases of COVID. The Panthers, however, quickly found a new dancing partner in Exeter Township after Commonwealth foe Carlisle canceled its Week 1 matchup against the Eagles due to COVID.

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