Luchene Davis doesn't have to go through the record book to understand some of the struggles the Centennial football program has endured over the years.
When he was in elementary school, he remembers attending games to watch his older brother, 2010 graduate John Jones Jr., compete for a team that posted three consecutive 0-10 finishes from 2007-09.
Finding the drive to succeed never has been a problem for the senior running back and outside linebacker, who became a starter on offense during his freshman year and has been there ever since.
"I ended up taking a senior's spot my freshman year and from then on it's motivated me that I could do things and I could be somebody," Davis said. "I just kept grinding in practice and continued in the weight room. I don't just motivate myself, but I motivate my teammates because I know they can do it, too. My main focus coming in my freshman year was that I knew I had to turn this program around, take it game by game, and as the years go by we'll be something."
In terms of the big picture of Centennial's season, its game Friday, Sept. 20, at Chillicothe probably couldn't get much bigger.
The Stars are 2-1 after beating Africentric 46-6 on Sept. 13, and the Cavaliers are 1-2 after falling 26-14 on Sept. 13 at Watkins Memorial.
Still, Chillicothe was 7-3 last season and made the playoffs each year from 2015-17.
Among Centennial's goals is to contend for a Division III, Region 11 playoff berth, and a win over the Cavaliers would be the last non-league opportunity it will have to build on that resume.
The other six teams in the City League-North Division are a combined 4-14 and each will have one non-league game later this season in addition to opening league play Sept. 20.
Centennial isn't sure whether it will have junior quarterback Jaylen Gilbert back for the Chillicothe game because of an injury he suffered in a 21-20 opening loss to Grandview on Aug. 29.
Sophomore Blake Bennett has been filling in, with Davis and juniors Marquise Scott (RB/DB) and Syquee Womack (WR/DB) providing much of the scoring punch.
Davis rushed for touchdowns of 34 and 3 yards and added a 34-yard scoring reception against Africentric, and Scott had an 8-yard touchdown run.
Scott was ejected from Centennial's loss to Grandview and did not play Sept. 6 when Whetstone beat West 50-0.
Bennett completed eight of 10 passes for 174 yards against West and threw for two scores against Africentric.
"We're just trying to take each day harder and stronger and that's motivating us to go harder," Davis said. "I feel like we're a new team and we can go far this year."
Davis has done his part in helping the Stars improve from 3-7 in 2016 to 4-6 in 2017 to 7-3 in 2018.
He rushed for 866 yards and 10 touchdowns and added two receiving touchdowns as a sophomore. Last fall, he rushed for 1,201 yards and 11 scores.
Davis had eight carries for 77 yards and four touchdowns and added a receiving score against West after having one receiving touchdown and one rushing score against Grandview.
Listed at 5-foot-9 and 195 pounds, Davis has put on about 50 pounds since he was a freshman.
"His freshman year he was pretty much just out there making plays off of pure talent," coach Donte Goosby said. "His sophomore year we asked him to be a little tougher, run harder and get a tough 4-5 yards. This year we've kind of used him as the 'X' factor on the football field. He's been like a Swiss army knife for our offense. He's grown. We've definitely been pleased with his maturation over the past couple years."
Volleyball team looking to progress
One of the things girls volleyball coach Brittani Lewis is most proud of regarding her team is that the majority of the players are involved in National Honor Society.
That work ethic has begun to pay off on the court as well.
"The volleyball team probably has the best GPA of all the sports teams at Centennial," Lewis said. "They definitely take it seriously and that has translated to the younger group. I'm waiting for that grit to come out, but I think we'll get it."
Before playing Beechcroft on Sept. 17, the Stars were 6-3 overall and 6-1 in the City-North. On Sept. 5, they lost 25-12, 18-25, 25-17, 25-23 to Whetstone after splitting with the Braves in league play last season.
If Centennial and Whetstone end up tied for the regular-season title, as they did last season, the Braves hold the tiebreaker because the Stars represented the City-North in the City championship match last season. The teams meet again Oct. 1 at Centennial.
Lewis has been pleased with a senior class that has been led by middle hitter Naa Dromo Korley, outside hitter Sky Harris and setter Rhian Jones.
Junior middle hitter Cecilia Dingess is another she believes has progressed.
"Rhian is my setter and has grown a lot and has become really demanding on the floor," Lewis said. "Naa Dromo in the middle has learned when to lay off the hits and where to add up the tips, and then I have Sky who is on the outside but is an all-around player and a really good passer."
Girls soccer team begins City play
On Thursday, Sept. 19, the girls soccer team opens City action at home against West.
The Stars continue league action Tuesday, Sept. 24, at Whetstone, which they beat twice last season, including 4-1 in the City title game.
Centennial was 1-5 after losing to Tree of Life 3-1 on Sept. 12, with its win coming 3-0 on Sept. 5 over Cristo Rey as junior midfielder Zoe Velez, sophomore midfielder Rachael Schutte and freshman midfielder/forward Brooke Loudner each scored.
Against Tree of life, senior forward Sarah Thompson scored and senior goalkeeper Sarah Clifton made seven saves.
Below are the coming schedules for the Centennial cross country, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 21 -- Celtic Clash at Dublin Jerome
Sept. 25 -- Rick Mettle Invitational at Walnut Ridge
*Sept. 19 -- City League match at TBA
*Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Beechcroft
*Sept. 24 -- Home vs. International
*Sept. 19 -- Home vs. West
Sept. 23 -- Home vs. Grandview
*Sept. 24 -- At Whetstone
Sept. 19 -- At Franklin Heights
Sept. 23, 25 -- City League coaches tournament at Africentric
Sept. 24 -- Home vs. Westland
*Sept. 19 -- At Northland. The Stars beat the Vikings 25-11, 25-17, 25-21 on Aug. 27.
Sept. 21 -- At Licking Heights with Westerville Central
Sept. 23 -- At Grandview