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Countdown to Kickoff: Central Bobcats

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- It's a new era at Central High School.

For the first time in 26 years, someone other than Joel Helton will lead the Bobcats.

Joe Hassell is that guy.

In early February, after an investigation that he allegedly threatened a student while holding a stick, Helton resigned from the position he held since 1984, paving the way for Hassell.

Hassell was an assistant coach at Central the previous year.

He inherits a team that went 3-7 last year, but Hassell says his players won't need to go far to find inspiration and confidence.

"All we have to do is walk around our field house," Hassell said.

"Central is a program that has been extremely successful the last 25 years under Coach Helton. We look at the pictures on the wall and the plaques that have been won and ultimately understand that we are a tradition rich program and we're a successful program and those kids can attain the same things as those kids that are on the wall."

It won't hurt that Cody Blanc suits up for Hassell's Bobcats. The running back/defensive back recently committed to play for Derek Dooley at the University of Tennessee.

Blanc is one of eight starters Central will have back on offense. The Bobcats also return eight on defense.

Central opens up the season August 19 at home against Catholic.

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