Simpler has proven to be better for the Centennial High School football team the last two weeks.

Things are likely to be much more complicated the next two weeks, though.

After playing host Friday, Sept. 14, to Northland, which was one of the three teams to share the City League-North Division title last season, Centennial travels to face 2017 Division VII playoff qualifier Lucas on Sept. 21.

The Stars enter what could be their toughest stretch after posting back-to-back wins for the first time since late in the 2016 season.

"I'm excited," senior two-way lineman Khari Woods said. "I know it's a lot of work that we're going to have to do in practice because (Northland isn't) going to lay down, but we're looking forward to the competition, facing the two brothers and the lines I've been hearing about. I'm looking forward to playing against them."

The duo Woods was referring to is Northland junior quarterback Kalil Branham and his senior brother, running back John Branham Jr.

Northland beat Centennial 62-13 last season and went 7-3 but came up one spot short of making the Division II, Region 7 playoffs.

The Vikings are 1-2, but both of their losses were to teams that are now 2-1 and made last year's playoffs in Zeeland (Michigan) West (28-27 on Aug. 24) and Whitehall (31-28 on Aug. 31). Northland is coming off a 28-21 win Sept. 7 over Granville, which also was a playoff qualifier last season.

Centennial is 2-1 for the first time since 2013 after crushing West 53-6 on Aug. 31 and Africentric 47-16 on Sept. 7.

The most important game the Stars might have played, though, was their 27-0 loss to Grandview on Aug. 24.

After breaking down the performance, the Stars have used an altered approach that has paid dividends the last two weeks.

"The score (against West) was kind of deceptive," coach Donte Goosby said. "I didn't think we played as well (against the Cowboys) as we did against Grandview. I thought our focus and execution was a little better (against Grandview) because they're a much better team than West and a much better team than we are. After Grandview, we realized we had too many moving parts, so we kind of scaled things down with what we were doing offensively and have focused on establishing a base that would get our main four to five guys as many touches as possible."

Against Africentric, quarterback Jaylen Gilbert completed all 11 of his pass attempts for 202 yards and three touchdowns and rushed seven times for 61 yards and one score. Luchene Davis had 10 carries for 120 yards and one touchdown. Syquee Womack had four receptions for 89 yards and one touchdown, and Marquise Scott made four catches for 78 yards and one score.

Northland got 73 yards rushing and one touchdown from John Branham and two rushing scores from Kalil Branham against Granville. Jesse Prew-itt added four catches for 66 yards.

"Northland and Lucas are two huge games staring at us," Goosby said. "We understand how tough those two games are, and I know that (we have to) get a lot better a lot sooner."

Cross country season underway

The boys and girls cross country teams next compete Wednesday, Sept. 19, in the Arrowhead Invitational at Whetstone.

The boys team has returned three of its top runners from last season in senior Kaleb Turner and sophomores Jeff Kimball and Jabe Miller after finishing third in the City meet behind Eastmoor Academy and Whetstone.

On Aug. 25, the Stars had five competitors in the varsity race and finished 15th (396) of 21 teams behind champion Heath (53) in the Newark Catholic Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion. Kimball was the team's No. 1 runner, finishing 52nd in 18 minutes, 52.0 seconds.

Other key runners include sophomore Nick Loudner and senior Myles Martinez, who were the Stars' No. 2 and No. 5 runners, respectively, on Aug. 25, as well as sophomores Alex Davenport, Dylan Ford, Jaylon Jackson and Kleo Kapaj and freshmen Nate Foley and Colin Murphy.

"Our boys team could be decent in the City," said Adam Berry, who is coaching the program along with Mike Kling-ler. "We ran well (Aug. 25) but definitely have room for improvement."

The top returning girl is senior Camilla Richards, who was 10th in the City last season as the Stars were runners-up to Whetstone. Also competing are sophomores Giana Francescon, Jana Kimball and Ali Magee.

Golfers begin second round of City tourney

The boys golf team was 3-2 in the City heading into matches Sept. 11, which represented the beginning of the second round of league action.

Because of first-round postponements, it was uncertain heading into the week where the matches would be held during the second round.

On Sept. 6 at Raymond Memorial, the Stars shot 252 to finish behind Whetstone (206) and Walnut Ridge (231). Chris Sfikas shot 54, followed by Joel Ford (60), Turner Wolfenberger (62), Gabe McIntire (76) and Lura Patterson (79).

There are three additional league matches followed by the league tournament, which will be held Sept. 27 at Airport.

"We're doing pretty well," coach David Leatherwood said. "Given that we're such a young team, we're getting better."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Schedules

CROSS COUNTRY

Aug. 25 -- Newark Catholic Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion

Sept. 8 -- McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial

Sept. 19 -- Arrowhead Invitational at Whetstone

Sept. 26 -- Walnut Ridge Invitational

Oct. 3 -- Backwoods Festival at Thornville Sheridan

Oct. 10 -- City League meet at Walnut Ridge

Below are the coming schedules for the Centennial boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:

BOYS GOLF

*Sept. 13 -- City League match at TBA

*Sept. 18 -- City League match at TBA

BOYS SOCCER

*Sept. 13 -- Home vs. Beechcroft

*Sept. 18 -- Home vs. Linden-McKinley

GIRLS SOCCER

*Sept. 13 -- At Mifflin

Sept. 15 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto

Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Caledonia River Valley

GIRLS TENNIS

*Sept. 17 -- At Mifflin

Sept. 18 -- Home vs. Westerville South

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

*Sept. 13 -- Home vs. Mifflin

*Sept. 18 -- Home vs. Linden. The Stars beat the Panthers 25-1, 25-6, 25-16 on Aug. 23.

*League contest