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CHS faces new look Panthers on Thursday

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Columbus Discoverers

Since Craig Williams has been with Columbus High football, whether as an assistant or now approaching 20 years as the head coach, he and the coaching staff have always had an idea of what to expect against Norfolk.

There will be quite a bit more mystery on Thursday when the rival Discoverers and Panthers clash in Norfolk at Veterans Memorial Field. Norfolk hired Chris Koozer to lead the program after Tom Olson retired from 23 years at the helm.

Koozer left six years leading the football program in Sidney to take the job. He was previously the head coach in Bridgeport and an assistant in Grand Island for 12 seasons. Koozer played collegiately at Concordia.

Olson's teams were a mix of run and short passes. In the first game of the Koozer era, Norfolk won 34-6 at Omaha South with a power run attack.

"They're going to hit you with some option, some iso, some power stuff with the option mixed in. A lot of their pass game is play action, and they didn't have to throw the ball a lot because they did a good job up front," Columbus coach Craig Williams said. "The biggest thing for us, usually going into a Norfolk week, we just pull out a gameplan from the last 20 years and say, 'Here's what we're going to see from Tom Olson and Norfolk.'"

Since that's no longer the case, Williams and the staff have been hard at work trying to size up the new-look Panthers. A week ago, junior Payson Owen rushed for 157 yards on 15 carries with three touchdowns. 

"He'll be completely different than last week. Last week we saw kids that were 6-4, 260, and this week we're going to see a kid that's 5-9 and about 165 pounds," Williams said. "When he gets a crease he can hit it and take off. It's a little bit of a different challenge."

Columbus is considering what to do to limit Owen while also improving and correcting its own errors. CHS had a touchdown called back on the first drive at Omaha Central and had the second drive halted by more flags. Williams and his staff aren't the types to overreact, so this week has been more about cleaning things up than making an overhaul.

The Discoverers have an identity they've built recently, and that won't change due to one result. Doing things better on a handful of snaps could have made a huge difference against the Eagles.

We showed all of that to the kids, showed them how close we were. They kind of knew it but it's easy to see when you see it on film. Omaha Central is a really good football team, I think they're going to have a really good year. To know if we clean up a few things that we're right there at that same level with them, it helps going back out on the field and getting back to work.

Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sports@columbustelegram.com.

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