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Panthers flex depth at offensive line

by | Jul 3, 2023 | Sports

While Plano East feels confident in their skill position players for next season, their most stable position on offense is along the offensive line.

The Panthers didn’t have a single senior offensive lineman last season, but that inexperience now turns into an advantage. In his first season as head coach, Tony Benedetto noticed how difficult it can be to be successful with a younger group on the line of scrimmage and wanted a change.

“There is some excellent line play in our district,” Benedetto said. “You just can’t get away with bad line play in our district, because Flower Mound, Lewisville, Coppell, the Plano Schools, they all have good lines. In places I’ve coached before, you could get away with it with great skill players but not here. I like having older, experienced offensive linemen.”

Leading the pack are two three-year starters on the offensive line. Corbin Glass and Ralee Jackson slot in at tackle and guard, respectively.

Both players have received plenty of reps over the years at Plano East, and are now rounding into form as two of the better players in the area.

After this next season, Glass recently committed to play college football at Air Force, while Jackson has offers from Lamar, Grambling State, and more. With those two leading the pack, they’ll be tasked with keeping quarterback Drew Devillier protected throughout the season.

“I think because they’ve played together for so long and have the talent, the habits will kick in and the little details will follow suit,” Benedetto said. “All the movements should be second nature for them so that they can play without thinking and help the younger players get to improve them as well.”

Alongside those two, another two seniors take up offensive line positions, with Marcus Lee moving from the defensive side of the ball to starting tackle, while Adrian Lopez takes over at guard after playing a lot last season. With that depth of talent, Plano East feels great about their starting five on the offensive line.

“We blocked pretty well last season when everyone was healthy,” Benedetto said. “Unfortunately when those guys got hurt and others stepped in, we didn’t block as well and couldn’t run the ball either. So we have to keep those guys on the field because they’re very talented.”

Lee steps over to offense with the prototypical size and length colleges look for in the offensive tackle position. Standing at 6-foot-5, he has a chance to be one of the more impactful players on the Panther’s line of scrimmage in 2023 and is working toward earning a future scholarship.

“Marcus has done a great job of buying into the change,” Benedetto said. “It’s one of the most important positions on a team, and it’s also one of the most fun positions to play when you buy in. He’s working to develop chemistry and use his best opportunities for the future as well.

At center, rising junior CJ Chaloux played several games last season in place of the injured Gavin Speight. As he steps in as the incumbent starter, the offseason work he’s had should help him more than having to step in midseason like last year.

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