Panthers prepared for season opener


Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern head football coach Adam Cushing (holding hat) coaches the team through up downs at practice Aug. 20. The Panthers will travel to Terre Haute Saturday to open the 2021 season against Indiana State.

Autumn Schulz, Assistant Sports Editor

With the regular season opener against Indiana State quickly approaching for the Eastern football team, there has been one looming question:

Who is going to be slated in the starting quarterback position?

For head coach Adam Cushing, the decision was a battle, but freshman Otto Kuhns has officially earned his spot as starting quarterback. 

“He really earned it coming out of camp. It was an unbelievable battle,” Cushing said. “Otto and Chris both bring different things to the table and we are certainly ready to maximize what they can do for us.”

Kuhns appeared in four games during the 2020 season, making three starts as quarterback, and was 44-of-87 passing for 509 yards on the season.

Cushing said that he is also looking forward to utilizing the return of wide receiver Isaiah Hill. Hill did not play any games during the 2020 season due to injury. Cushing said Hill’s return means a lot to the team. 

“It is exciting to get Isaiah back,” Cushing said. “What is great about him is just the way that he practices. He practices harder than anybody on the football field. That is why he is so talented; he works his tail off and that example is what has meant so much to the team.”

As a sophomore in 2019, Hill made six starts at wide receiver and led the team in pass receptions with 58 for 571 yards. His performance led him to being named to the 2019 All-OVC Newcomer Team.

In preparation for the opener, Cushing and the team have been analyzing film from 2019, the last year that Indiana State played a game. 

Since the Sycamores have not played in a while, it makes Eastern’s preparations a little more challenging. However, Cushing is confident that by focusing on themselves, the Panthers will be ready for battle. 

“Champions are not champions because they do anything extraordinary, it is because they do the ordinary things better than anyone else,” Cushing said. “We got to focus on us. We’re going to see something new and we’ve got to be able to just trust our rules and go play fast.” 

Cushing, enter his third year as head coach, is eager to use his veteran players. He said that it is the little details that the team veterans execute so well from day to day that make them vital to the success of the team. 

“These guys understand how to take the team from A to B,” Cushing said. “All the little details that add up, when coaches have to coach all that stuff, we can’t focus on getting them better. Now that the players have taken that over, A to B, we can take them from B to C.” 

Cushing said that it is the leadership skills that the team veterans have that makes him and his staff excited about the future of the program.

The game is scheduled for Aug. 28 at Memorial Stadium in Terre Haute. 


Autumn Schulz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]