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Bastrop Daily Enterprise - Bastrop, LA
  • Veteran O-linemen impress new coach

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  • Sterlington's veteran offensive linemen need not worry about impressing their new boss — first-year head coach Jason Thompson is already sold on the group.
    After helping pave the way for an offense which averaged 30.2 points and 332.6 (265.7 rushing, 66.9 passing) total yards per game, center Tyler Buffington and right guard Conley Harris enter their fourth seasons as starters, while right tackle Chase Parks begins his third term as a regular. In addition, left tackle Christian Carter has joined the O-line after lettering on the defensive side the past two years.
    "I like our offensive line," first-year head coach Jason Thompson said. "Those guys have taken charge in the offseason and it has carried over onto the field."
    Following Wednesday's workout, the four linemen shared their thoughts on spring camp and the season ahead.
    NOWN: Does being a senior bring on any added responsibility?
    Tyler Buffington: We've been there before, so we are able to pass what we have learned along to our teammates and make them better football players.
    Conley Harris: We know what it takes. We can tell the underclassmen what they need to do, but it's up to them to actually put in the work.
    Christian Carter: As four-year starters, Tyler and Conley's experience has been a big help to us over the years. As a freshman, it's kind of intimidating to go up to the older guys and ask them what to do. It's not that intimidating to ask somebody in your own class.
    NOWN: How are the Panthers responding to coach Thompson so far?
    Chase Parks: Our practices have been real upbeat and more positive. We're looking forward to going to practice every day. We have a lot more people out this year.
    Buffington: The intensity is definitely there. It feels like a playoff game every day.
    NOWN: How have your blocking assignments changed in the new offense?
    Carter: It's more to try to remember. We're just going to need time to learn everything.
    Buffington: It's still the same, basically. We still attack and still run off the ball. We just have a few more signals to learn.
    NOWN: Does having an experienced group of backs make your job easier as an offensive lineman?
    Page 2 of 3 - Parks: (Austin) Haman's going to be a bull at fullback and we have a lot of speed at tailback with (Jaylon) Wade and (JaQuarius) Douglas. We ran the ball pretty effectively after we changed offenses last year, but you always want to get better.
    Buffington: If we block for Jaylon, he's gone.
    NOWN: Who are some of the newcomers who could contribute in 2013?
    Parks: I think Matthew Giddens and Nick Nall are going to help us on defense.
    Harris: Rex Spencer is going to help us out at wide receiver and Hunter Morgan can help us at guard.
    NOWN: Has it started to sink in that this is your last year to play high school football?
    Carter: In the past, I've always known there was going to be another year. Sometimes I stop and think, 'Wow, this is my last spring training, my last year of summer workouts.'
    Parks: Definitely. Every day. Last year, we were one game away (from winning the district championship). We had Homer on our turf and lost to them. This is our last chance.
    NOWN: Do you expect better participation in the summer workout program this year?
    Harris: Yes, because I think our will to work has shown up.
    Carter: Having to be here at 6:30 in the morning in the summer wasn't fun. Moving it back to 9:30, I think we're going to get a lot more participation.
    NOWN: What do you hope to accomplish this spring?
    Parks: We need to keep getting better every day instead of getting better and taking a step back. The crowd is going to be packed for the spring game. We have to give them a reason to come back.
    Harris: Everybody's been talking about us having a new coach, so there's a lot more excitement in the community. It's up to us to make them excited on Friday nights, too.
    NOWN: Who is the leader on the offensive line?
    Carter: We're one unit; a team within the team.
    Page 3 of 3 - Buffington: There's not really one leader. Not to cut Christian out, but me, Conley and Chase have been on the line together since junior high, so the camaraderie is there.
    Harris: I consider all of us leaders. If somebody does something wrong, we try to get them right.
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