Sterlington offensive coordinator Bobby Breen says the Panthers' backfield picture is becoming clearer.
Sterlington senior Brooks Rushworth spent the first three years of his varsity career on the defensive line. He appears to be making a seamless transition to the offensive side as a tight end. Judging by Tuesday's practice, his receiving skills haven't eroded.
Once a dynamic junior high combination, it hasn't taken long for Carson Clowers and Rushworth to reconnect.
A three-year starter at defensive end, Rushworth missed the final nine games of the Panthers' 2016 state championship season due to a shoulder injury.
Besides providing an extra target in the passing game, the 6-2, 205-pound Rushworth provides size on the edge as an extra blocker.
"Rushworth has been a pleasant surprise," Breen said. "We also have Tucker (Allen) back at tight end, which gives us the ability to run some two tights. Rushworth has good hands and good ability to get off pass coverage. He knows how to use his body in space, and has all the tools you are looking for in a tight end."
After losing two 1,000-yard rushers in fullback Tyler Muse and tailback DeVante Douglas, the backfield was an area of concern going into camp.
Senior Austin Dupree, junior Luke Denman and sophomore Jordan Townsend have emerged as the leading candidates at fullback, while C.J. Colvin has been impressive at tailback.
"Our biggest question mark coming in was at fullback," Breen said. "Dupree can also play tailback. Denman, our backup quarterback, is getting better at fullback. The backfield is starting to take shape."
Colvin, who spent most of his time in the secondary as a freshman, has rejoined the team after sitting out last season to focus on basketball.
Breen may take more of a committee approach with the wide receivers following the departure of Peyton Kemp and Austin Mears. Clay Vaughn, Landon Green, Jake Houston, Davis Johnson, Luke Handy and Dorian Eddins are all getting reps.
"We may be able to use them all if they keep progressing like they have been," Breen said.
While there is some question as to who will be running the routes, there is no doubt as to who will be delivering the passes. Clowers, who was phenomenal down the stretch during the state championship run, returns for his fourth year as a starter and his second as the No. 1 quarterback.
Injured for much of the regular season, Clowers completed 33-of-48 passes for 864 yards with 10 touchdowns and only one pick in the first four postseason games. Although he was 0-for-3 passing in the finals, he was named the game's MVP after running for three touchdowns.
Through the five playoff games, he accounted for 1,184 yards of total offense (864 passing, 320 rushing) and 18 touchdowns (10 passing, 8 rushing).
"Clowers, as long as we can keep him healthy, gives us the ability to do multiple things," Breen said. "He understands and loves the game, which allows you to do some things."
Denman remains the backup with Davis Johnson and freshman Brodie Green in reserve.
"Davis won a game for us last year when Clowers and Denman were both out," Breen said. "Brodie Green has a bright future ahead of him."
Weakside guard Brock Risinger joins holdovers Trey Rugg, Whit Buffington, Landon Jinks and Chandler Jones on the front wall. Rugg slides into Noah Weatherly's strong tackle spot after starting at weakside guard last fall. Buffington remains at strong guard, while Jinks and Jones continue to occupy the center and weakside tackle posts. Jack Anderson is also making a bid for playing time.
"We have to find a couple of more backups," Breen said. "We have a good group; we just have to keep them healthy. The biggest spot where we have to have some guys grow up this year and maybe next year is on the line."