Centennial looks to reclaim status as football powerhouse

Centennial football is looking to get back on track this season after a rare 3-8 record a season ago. (Centennial High School/Submitted) 

Last season, the Centennial High School football program found itself in unfamiliar territory — the team finished with just three wins.

At a record of 3-8, the Coyotes see last season as an outlier in what has otherwise been a program filled with a consistent winning tradition. They are putting last season behind them.

“There were a lot of reasons why,” head coach Richard Taylor said. “All of them are excuses, and we kind of look at that as in the rear view mirror and we are moving on.”

If he had to peg a reason for last season’s struggles, Taylor would put it on the inability to get in the weight room.

“Last year was not necessarily the players’ fault,” Taylor said. “We had a difficult time getting into the weight room the last couple years with COVID. Normally that is one of the strengths of our team.”

With a new season underway, the Coyotes look to return to the winning ways that the program has come to expect. Thus far, Centennial has won three of its first four games.

Senior kicker Brysen Gardner shared that the team was hard at work in the offseason in order to be ready to compete and get the team back on track.

“We have been going hard in the weight room and the field and the classroom heading into this season,” Gardner said. “We are just looking to get things right.”

Thomas said his team has “absolutely” taken the right steps in order to do big things this season. He credits his team’s ability in the weight room as a key factor for it to be successful this season.

“Last season, I think we had five kids who benched 300 pounds, which was very abnormal for us,” he said. “This year, we are back up to 25, and that is where we normally are. When you can gain that kind of strength, you usually have a pretty good season.”

Taylor knows that despite last season being a down year for the program, there were still a lot of things his team learned from it.

“Last year was a humbling year,” he said. “Humbling is never bad if you take it and use it. I think, as coaches and players, we felt all we had to do was put on the CCs and we were going to win. In retrospect, I think that was probably healthy for us.”

Evidenced by the team’s hopes for this season of winning a state championship, Centennial is sure that they are back on track and will prove that last season’s shortcomings were a one-time thing.

“We have high expectations,” Taylor said. “They (the players) have set a goal to win a state championship.”