Football gearing up for season

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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Red-shirt senior runningback Devin Church rushed for 75 yards and 1 touchdown in the game against Southeast Missouri on Oct. 10, 2015. The Panthers won 33-28.

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Red-shirt senior runningback Devin Church rushed for 75 yards and 1 touchdown in the game against Southeast Missouri on Oct. 10, 2015. The Panthers won 33-28.

When the Eastern football season begins next Thursday and the Panthers host Western, fans will be able to get a look at two quarterbacks.

Coach Kim Dameron said he wants to have two quarterbacks ready to go at all times. Those two quarterbacks for the Western game at O’Brien Field will be redshirt juniors Austin Green and Mitch Kimble.

Who will be the starting quarterback is still not known, but just like everyone else on the team, Green and Kimble are competing all season long, Dameron said.

“I’ve been a fan of playing whoever the backup is, and getting him a series in the second quarter,” Dameron said. “Eastern Kentucky found out last year. They went through three quarterbacks against us last year. You have to be ready, so you have to get the (quarterbacks) some time.”

The Panthers beat the Eastern Kentucky 21-7 on senior day in 2015.

Kimble came to Eastern last year as a sophomore and missed the season due to an injury. Green saw some playing time last year. He was 5-of-16 for 74 yards in 2015.

With neither Green nor Kimble getting much playing time, Dameron said it is important that they both know and that the team knows both quarterbacks will be used.

Throughout the first few weeks of practices, Dameron has also been impressed by redshirt sophomore Jared Pilson. Pilson has spent some time at quarterback for the Panthers, and has also been spending some time at receiver.

“He’s doing a great job,” Dameron said. “He’s come up with some talents that we didn’t know he had. Jared’s a good athlete and he wants to find a way to get on the field. He’s doing a fine job as a quarterback, also. I think he’s having a ball playing receiver and playing quarterback.”

Pilson has learned the offense in his time spent playing quarterback, and has started working with the receivers and has earned the respect of the entire football team, Dameron said.

While last year’s quarterback Jalen Whitlow liked to scramble and had speed on the outside, Green was still able to learn from him to help himself get ready to play.

“I learned from last year that I’m not as fast on the outside as Jalen,” Green said. “But mentally Jalen was a great player and there was a lot that I learned from him with the way he handles himself out there and the way he just leads the offense. That’s kind of what he just taught me and I’m hoping I can do the same.”

Last year, the Panthers came up just short on winning the Ohio Valley Conference Championship with their only OVC loss coming to conference champion Jacksonville State.

After the season ended, the Panthers were able to keep the momentum going through the winter and recruiting as well, and into spring ball and the summer Dameron said.

“We had a lot of kids do a great job this summer,” Dameron said. “It’s like everything. Just trying to get better every day than we were the day before. And that means from last year to this year we should improve.”

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]