Spotlight on: Centennial Coyotes
Hometown: Peoria, Arizona
Group: 5A Division II
By Jimmy Oliver
Each season at Centennial may end differently than the one before, but no matter what, the expectations remain the same. When the players don those navy blue helmets with the interlocking “CC” symbols along with the navy blue uniforms, they immediately understand the prospect of winning a state championship is inherent upon them.
Those expectations were instilled earlier this decade as the program grew in skill and prominence. The year 2002 marked the beginning of a new era in Centennial Football as a new wave of talent fueled the team’s first playoff berth since ’95.
After two more years of playoff success, the Coyotes lost to North Canyon in the Arizona 5A-II state final in ’05. The following year, Centennial broke through and triumphed over Tucson Sunnyside to take home its first title. And then last year, the Coyotes won it all again thanks to a hard fought victory over Westview.
In ’08, Centennial has its eyes on landing a berth into the state title game for the fourth straight time.
From that first season in ’92, when the squad put up a record of just 2-8, Centennial has been building the foundation for perennial championship teams in the Grand Canyon state.
So far, the Coyotes are once again proving themselves a contender with a 3-0 record thanks to big wins over Desert Ridge, Hamilton (one of Centennial’s tougher opponents on the schedule) and Rincon. Next up for Centennial is North. Currently, the Coyotes are ranked 1st in the state of Arizona in the latest Mega Division ratings.
In the coming weeks, the offense will look to stay hot. North has put up 61 points in three games but has also let up 78. Therefore, junior quarterback Daine McFarland and running back John Hughes will have ample opportunity to continue the pace they have set so far. Along with those playmakers, the Coyotes sport a young offensive line that appears to be already starting to come together.
Head coach Richard Taylor is starting to see that happen.
“I cam home after a practice during the Hamilton week and told my wife (who is a music teacher at Centennial) that we were not practicing well and how concerned I was. She told me ‘bad practice…good performance’”
Meanwhile, Centennial beat Hamilton that week 35-16. Bravo Mrs. Taylor.
Perhaps Taylor’s uneasiness is starting to move in the other direction because of the belief he has in his kids.
“This group is very bright and are hard workers,” Taylor said. “They know what they want and what they need to do.”
And it’s likely that the athletes know the exact task at hand because of the expectations that have been instilled. From the starting quarterback to the third string linebacker, each member of the squad shares the common goal of winning a state title. And because of that tradition, an established coaching staff and a program producing primal talent in the state, Centennial breeds success ever year.
Said Taylor, “We want to excel at all phases of the game.”
So far, as is the norm around Peoria now, the Coyotes are doing just that.
Next up: Friday, September 26 at North (State PR: 52.00, Rank: 34).