The time for basking in the aftermath of a rare winning season should be over shortly for the Centennial High School football team.
The Stars finished 7-3 overall and 4-2 in the City League-North Division to mark their first winning season since 2001. Centennial went 7-3 on the field in 2002 but was forced to forfeit the first three games and officially went 4-6.
"This year doesn't guarantee us anything next year," coach Donte Goosby said. "Nothing carries over. While we have a lot of talent coming back, if we don't work our butts off again in the offseason, we won't be setting ourselves up for the possibility of having a special season next year.
"So I'm interested in finding out how hungry we are. Just like during the season, we want to improve every day in the offseason. The kids need to get in the weight room and do everything they can do to better themselves. That's the way you get better as a team from year to year."
Goosby said the Stars had potential to do even better this season.
"Truthfully, we should've won at least one more, and I think we should've been in contention to go unbeaten," he said. "We let one slip away when Beechcroft scored late (in a 30-25 loss Oct. 5). We weren't ready physically in the opener (in a 27-0 loss to Grandview on Aug. 24) and we trailed Northland 7-0 at halftime (in a 35-0 loss Sept. 14), but we lost our warrior, Khari Woods, to injury right before halftime. That changed things. We were (stunned) and gave up 21 points in the third quarter."
Woods, a two-way lineman and team leader, was lost for the season.
He was one of nine seniors. Among others were Jackson Bradfield (OL), Jamal Erby (FB/LB), Oscar Espino (OL), Anthony Flood (LB), Lamont Rankin (OL) and D'Anthony Roberts (DB).
Rankin was a three-year starter who anchored the offensive line, which helped the Stars produce more than 3,000 total yards and average 33.2 points. He was first-team all-league.
Woods and Erby were second-team all-league, and Bradfield and Espino were honorable mention.
"We didn't have a lot of seniors, but they're going to leave some holes," Goosby said. "They were mostly three- and four-year guys who showed our younger kids the ropes. So it wasn't just their productivity that will be missed, but their leadership, too."
The Stars expect to return nine players on both sides of the ball who started multiple games.
Expected to return on offense are juniors Seth Arrowood (OL), Luchene Davis (RB) and Chem Yisrael (WR) and sophomores C.J. Dean (WR), Jaylen Gilbert (QB), Justin Grimes (OL), Kevin Motley (OL), Marquese Scott (WR) and Syquee Womack (WR).
Gilbert was 63-for-92 passing for 1,013 yards with 14 touchdowns and rushed for 600 yards and nine touchdowns on 85 carries. Davis rushed for 1,201 yards and 11 touchdowns and scored 12 touchdowns total.
Scott had 18 catches for 445 yards, rushed 24 times for 187 yards and returned 17 kickoffs for 513 yards. He scored 13 touchdowns.
Womack had 15 receptions for 387 yards and 14 kickoff returns for 302 yards. He scored six touchdowns.
Gilbert, Davis and Scott were first-team all-league, Womack was on the second team and Arrowood was honorable mention.
Expected back on defense are Grimes (DL), Motley (DL), Scott (CB) and Womack (S) as well as juniors Kelvin Gilliam (DL) and Xyion Newton (DL) and sophomores Dejwar Ali (LB), Taemar Gunnell (DB) and Noah Hatem (DL).
Newton was second-team all-league and Gunnell was honorable mention.
Womack had 47 tackles and three interceptions, while Scott allowed only six completions all season.