Senior quarterback Jonathan Morris

Senior quarterback Jonathan Morris escapes the pocket for Centennial football.

Commonly, the Centennial football team is part of a blowout; it is just usually on the winning side. A 71-21 home loss to Mater Dei on September 6, the defending consensus high school football national champion from Santa Ana, California, was a unique experience for Coyote fans and players alike.

“We’ve done that to a few people ourselves. If you do it long enough, eventually you get yours. We got ours tonight,” Centennial coach Richard Taylor said.

Senior tight end Kaeden Miller said the coaching staff relayed to them a simple message after the game: Wipe the slate clean. It was a disappointing loss, he said, but what matters is how the Coyotes finish the rest of the season.

There are eight games to play in the regular season, and the Coyotes have their eyes set on a chance to compete for the state’s first open-division football title. A run of wins similar to their past two campaigns — resulting in back-to-back 5A state titles — would surely get the Coyotes to that point.

“Beating Mater Dei isn’t the goal. Winning the championship is. It’s just one game,” Miller said.

Mater Dei quarterback Bryce Young had over 500 yards passing in the game and did not even play in the fourth quarter. And, this contest came off of a surprisingly close home win over Casteel, in which the Colts scored 27 points.

While the Coyotes have plenty of firepower on offense, Taylor said the team’s reputation comes from its defensive prowess. It allowed just a single touchdown in the 2018 5A state championship game against Notre Dame Prep last December.

However, rather than see the defensive struggles as a failure, the Coyotes view them as a chance to light a fire under themselves for the remainder

of 2019.

The players are going to remember the sting from this game, and use it as motivation to make sure they play as good of defense as possible the rest of the season.

“It (the loss) motivates us a lot because it’s a home game and we disappointed our home fans. We’ve got to come out and make sure we don’t do it again,” senior defensive back and running back Jaydin Young said.

Even in the loss, Taylor was impressed by the impact some of his players made on the field. Centennial scored more points (21) than any other team has put up against the Monarchs all season.

Just two games into 2019, his goal is to not have the team panic. There is work to be done. The Coyotes have proof of that. But, there is still a lot of time to build and improve.

“I guarantee we became a better team tonight, and when we watch the film we’re going to find some guys played their hearts out, and we’re going to build things around them,” he said.

Centennial (1-1) travels to Vail to take on Cienega (1-1) September 13 for its next game.