Coaching changes create new-look Stars
The Centennial High School football team's coaching staff went through some major changes during the offseason.
Donte Goosby has replaced Mark Shaffer as coach after serving as defensive coordinator the previous three seasons.
Philip Farmer has replaced Goosby as defensive coordinator after being the assistant defensive coordinator last year, and Anthony Thornton has taken over as offensive coordinator after he was the coach at Brookhaven from 2008-10 and the Bearcats' offensive coordinator from 2003-07.
Goosby acknowledged his players have had to make a lot of adjustments on the fly, but said they have embraced those changes after the Stars went 1-9 overall and 1-6 in the City League-North Division last year.
"We're changing the way we're doing things quite a bit this year, but our guys are adjusting to those changes really well," said Goosby, whose team opens Friday, Aug. 30, at Grandview. "Nobody was happy with us finishing 1-9 last year and we're all working hard to change the way we're doing things, because we want to get better."
Goosby has given both Thornton and Farmer the freedom to make major changes in the way the Stars run their offense and defense.
Thornton is tweaking Centennial's offset-I offense.
Thornton, who led Brookhaven to a 24-10 record and two playoff berths as coach, was the Bearcats' offensive coordinator in 2004 when they won the Division II state championship.
The Stars return seven offensive starters in junior quarterback Jeremy Johnson, junior fullback Darsean Watts, senior running back Dazmin Smith, senior tight end Jirequez Fair-Harris, senior guard Kenny Lambert and senior twins Nick Martin (T) and Noah Martin (C). Johnson and Fair-Harris were honorable mention all-league a year ago.
Junior tackle Hunter Waits, junior wide receivers Anthony Slappy and Tyler Hill and sophomore wide receivers Joe Cooper and Tyler Patterson also are expected to contribute to the Stars' multiple-formation offense.
"Anthony's an offensive genius and he's been a big help to me as a first-year head coach because he has a lot of knowledge to pull from," Goosby said. "We ran a lot of plays out of the I-formation last year, but we're going to run plays out of multiple formations this year. The hallmark of Anthony's offenses is that they are efficient and balanced.
"Whether we're running plays out of the I or spreading defenses out with three or four wide receivers, Anthony will take what people give him."
Under Farmer's supervision, Centennial has converted from a 50 defense to a 3-4. Three defensive starters have returned in Lambert (NG), Watts (LB) and Noah Martin (DE).
Other players who are expected to be key members of the defense are junior free safety Cole Murray, Fair-Harris (LB), Hill (CB), Patterson (CB), Slappy (OLB) and Waits (DE).
Johnson again will handle punting duties.
"We see a lot of spread offenses competing in the City League-North, and using a 3-4 defense allows us to be more versatile against the spread," Goosby said. "Our (first-string players) are solid on both sides of the ball, but we have a lot of guys going both ways and we don't have a lot of depth, so we have to avoid injuries at all costs."
The Stars are looking to improve not only their overall record but their seventh-place finish in the City-North behind champion Beechcroft (7-0).
"I'm not going to throw (out) some arbitrary number of wins that we're shooting for," Goosby said. "We just want to get better and improve on how we finished last year.
"I fully expect the City League-North to be extremely athletic. Beechcroft, Brook-haven and Northland are always tough and the rest of the teams are improving, so we'll need to be prepared to do our best every Friday night."