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CWU quarterback Quincy Glasper scores a touchdown Saturday against Simon Fraser at Tomlinson Stadium.

Football will return to Tomlinson Stadium when Central Washington begins spring practices Friday.

Quarterback Quincy Glasper leads a strong core of returners from a team that broke a four-year drought by reaching the Division II playoffs last fall. The Wildcats will also need to replace some key players as they prepare for a transformative season with the team entering the Lone Star Conference as an affiliate member next fall.

“It feels like we’re back in a normal environment and the kids and staff are excited about that,” coach Chris Fisk said in a release. “One of the most important things for us is not worrying about the external factors, like a new conference and the other things that come with it, and just dive within ourselves and get better every day.”

The COVID-19 pandemic cancelled 2020 spring football entirely and put limitations on Central in 2021 as it continued to follow community health guidelines. After a few weeks of practice, the Wildcats played their first game in more than 16 months when they lost 59-3 at 2021 FCS quarterfinalist Montana.

For the third straight season, Central Washington will be installing a new offensive coordinator and learning a new scheme this spring after Zach Tinker left to become a special teams quality control coach at Oregon. The Wildcats named North Dakota State offensive quality control coordinator Connor Senger their new offensive coordinator in February, but he recently accepted a Bidwell Coaching Fellowship position to work with quarterbacks for the Arizona Cardinals.

Fisk expects to announce a new offensive coordinator next week and said there’s no doubt who will lead the offense on the field after Quincy Glasper earned GNAC Offensive Player of the Year honors as a third-year freshman last season. He’ll be joined in the backfield by running backs Tyler Flanagan and Rashaad Boddie, both of whom ran for more than 500 yards and scored at least six touchdowns last season.

First team all-GNAC freshman Darius Morrison’s the top returning receiver and junior Scottland Vise should anchor the offensive line. The biggest holes Central must fill appear to be on the defensive end following the departure of senior lineman Zach Stecklein and GNAC defensive player of the year Donte Hamilton.

Central’s scheduled to hold 14 two-hour practices open to the public in April, including scrimmages on April 15 and April 30 and a spring game on April 23 at 10 a.m. The Wildcats will open their 2022 season on Sept. 1 on the road against defending Division II champion Ferris State.

Reach Luke Thompson at luthompson@yakimaherald.com.

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