As they prepared during the offseason, one topic that wasn't taboo between Centennial High School seniors Di'Andre Harrison, Wesley Russell Jr. and Taylor Wicks was the 32-game losing streak their football team had suffered.

As they prepared during the offseason, one topic that wasn't taboo between Centennial High School seniors Di'Andre Harrison, Wesley Russell Jr. and Taylor Wicks was the 32-game losing streak their football team had suffered.

The trio decided to look at what they viewed as the positive side of the last three-plus seasons - the increasingly strong work ethic they had seen the team have - rather than the numbers.

With a 31-7 victory over Columbus South on Sept. 10, Centennial finally laid to rest what was a 34-game skid. The Stars kept things going in the right direction Sept. 17 with a 34-18 victory over Linden-McKinley on the opening night of City League-North Division play.

Last Friday, they made it three wins in a row by beating Mifflin 18-12.

"Basically since I came here as a sophomore, all we talked about was that we need to work hard to get wins, and we thought that we're too good of a class not to get some," said Russell, who attended Northland as a freshman before transferring to Centennial. "Me, Di'Andre and Taylor said that we've just got to get this done. If we saw somebody slacking in the weight room, we'd say something about it."

With former assistant Mark Shaffer back in the fold as offensive coordinator after being away from the program for six seasons, the Stars more than tripled their entire scoring output from last season in the first four games.

Running behind an offensive line that features Harrison and senior Ricky Lee, Russell threw for a touchdown as quarterback and returned two kickoffs for scores against South.

Against Linden, Russell ran for one touchdown and Wicks rushed for 160 yards and four touchdowns.

Against Mifflin, Wicks rushed for 96 yards and one touchdown and Russell ran for a 3-yard touchdown and returned an interception 40 yards for another score.

Centennial opened with back-to-back losses to the Columbus Crusaders (21-0 on Aug. 27) and Columbus West (30-15 on Sept. 3).

"We've made great progress through the course of the year," coach Pat Sergio said. "We sometimes end up being our own worst enemy, and a lot of it comes from a lack of experience and from self-doubt.

"Against South, Wesley had an outstanding game with being able to spread out and run the ball. Against Linden, Taylor stepped up in the tailback spot and our offensive line did an excellent job."

Despite having a roster that is smaller than most teams in the City-North, the Stars had few injuries over the season's first four weeks. They play host to expected City-North title contenders Northland and Brookhaven the next two weeks, respectively, before traveling to winless Columbus East on Oct. 15.

"Winning is something new for us, so it feels awesome," Wicks said. "Once you finally get out of that slump, you want that feeling again."

•DEVILS MOVE TO 5-0 - In the ThisWeekSPORTS.com football Game of the Week last Friday, Marion-Franklin scored 21 points in the third quarter and pulled away for a 35-6 victory over Walnut Ridge.

Chad Jones ran for 89 yards and three touchdowns to help the Red Devils improve to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the City League-South. Marion-Franklin plays host to Africentric on Friday.

The only other City-South team to improve to 2-0 in league play last Friday was Eastmoor, which defeated Briggs 43-12 to move to 2-2 overall. Its other victory was 55-36 over Columbus West on Sept. 17.

The Red Devils and Warriors meet Oct. 15 at Eastmoor.

•BRUINS VOLLEYBALL SHINING - The Briggs girls volleyball team was first at 8-0 in the City-South before playing Walnut Ridge last Tuesday.

The Bruins finished second (6-1) in the league last season behind Eastmoor (7-0) but beat the Warriors 25-14, 25-19, 25-18 on Sept. 14. The league schedule has been expanded to two rounds this fall.

The only first-round league match in which Briggs needed more than three games to win was its 23-25, 19-25, 25-10, 25-13, 17-15 victory over West on Aug. 31. In the rematch on Sept. 23, the host Bruins won 25-14, 25-18, 25-18.

Briggs was 8-4 overall before last Tuesday. If Northland remains in first in the City-North, the Bruins could meet the Vikings on Oct. 26 for the City championship in a rematch of a contest Northland won 25-19, 25-9, 18-25, 24-26, 15-11 on Sept. 1. Centennial has won the last nine City titles but lost to the Vikings in the first round of City-North play.

"We've lost to some pretty good teams, and (the first three) were in five games," second-year coach Herb Sharfenaker said. "They're listening well and following all of our team rules."

The Bruins have a trio of experienced players leading the way in senior captains Shawnee Allen (middle hitter), Tabitha Biegler (middle hitter) and Emily Regan (libero). Biegler has made first-team all-City the last two years.

Other key players include seniors Alicia Boring, Emerald Perry and Sam Wolford, juniors Deborah Immel and Charlee Roark, sophomore Jordyn Estep and freshman Nolla Harris.

The Bruins play today at Independence and play host to Grove City Christian on Saturday and Marion-Franklin on Tuesday.

"We finished 16-6 last year and our only loss in the league was to Eastmoor, so our girls are kind of doing what we want them to do," Sharfenaker said. "No Briggs team has ever played for the City championship and they've put in the work. They just wanted to get better."