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Jose GarciaMultimedia Journalist/Historian email@example.com
Centennial off to great start but still needs to improveSep 1, 2012
Despite scoring 55 points and shutting out their opponent, none of Peoria Centennial’s football players will receive a perfect grade.
Coach Richard Taylor will see the film of Friday’s game on Saturday, but he doesn’t need game footage to tell him that his Centennial football team still has a long way to go before it can start to compare itself to some of the great Centennial teams of the past.
What’s scary is that the 2012 Centennial squad outscored its first two opponents, including Friday’s opponent, Goodyear Millennium, 103-13. By the time Halloween rolls around, opponents might get spooked even more if Centennial continues to improve.
“I’m happy where we are right now, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Taylor said. “We’ll grade the film (on Saturday). They will receive a grade and no one will receive a 100. Most people won’t be in the 90s.”
Here’s another reason why opponents should be concerned: Centennial is winning and blowing out opponents without three suspended starters, including its best defensive player.
Two of the starters can start playing next week, and the third suspended player will return in two weeks. With all of the depth on this year’s Centennial team, the team isn’t very worried about being without a couple of starters.
Even without the suspended players, Centennial’s defense is further along than the offense at this point in the season, Taylor said. On Friday at home, Centennial had allowed Millennium to gain only 17 yards before Taylor’s second and third string players started playing late in the third quarter.
Centennial graduated the state’s top free safety, Zach Hoffpauir, last year, but that position now is home to another hard hitter, senior Adam Leonard. Leonard had an interception Friday night and caused another interception after knocking out Millennium’s starting quarterback in the third quarter.
“During the last couple of years I just watched him (Hoffpauir) and gained a lot of experienced,” Leonard said. “I try to bring to the field what I learned from him.”
On offense, Taylor didn’t like how his team performed during the first half of last week’s game.
But it was a different story on Friday, when Centennial scored 35 first half points. The big name in Centennial’s offense is running back Jalen Ortiz, but Taylor said he has about six running backs that can step in and perform well.
It helps that Centennial also starts an experienced and talented offensive line. The only position that Centennial likely can’t afford to suffer an injury to a starter is at quarterback.
Senior starting quarterback Tre’von Grant’s ability to run is a commodity Centennial didn’t have last year.
“We are running a couple of different schemes this year,” Centennial’s offensive coordinator Kyle Pooler said. “We have a lot of athletes and running backs who can make big plays. You have to defend everybody. A lot of guys can touch the ball.”
The pieces are in place for another special year for Centennial, but this year’s team can’t really start thinking yet about becoming the program’s next state champion.
“Right now they don’t compare to those (state championship) teams,” Taylor said. “But they have a chance. But right now they are not in the same league.”