The Centennial football team made history Oct. 4 with a 28-7 win at Beechcroft, and the Stars did it with a strong defensive effort.
The Stars, who improved to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the City League-North Division, held Beechcroft to just 87 total yards and forced three turnovers, including two in the fourth quarter to preserve their first win over the Cougars.
"Obviously, the win was huge," said coach Dante Goosby, whose program had lost each of the previous 22 meetings in the series. "It speaks volumes to the team we have. I just thought we played good, sound football with no gimmicks."
Centennial faces Linden-McKinley on Friday, Oct. 11, at home, continuing its bid to win the program's first league title.
The Panthers are 1-5 overall and 0-3 in the City-North following a 56-6 loss to visiting Northland on Oct. 4.
"They're very big up front on the offensive and defensive lines," Goosby said. "Linden is always going to have a bunch of athletes. We have to be prepared to match their physicality up front and our athletes are going to have to come to play."
Luchene Davis ran for 131 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 20 carries against Beechcroft while quarterback Jaylen Gilbert, who returned after being out with injuries (elbow, shoulder) suffered in Week 1, also ran for a pair of scores.
"If Luchene is having a good game that bodes well for us," Goosby said. "He's a pretty important factor for our success. In a game of this magnitude, I was very happy and very impressed that he stayed true to who he was (as a leader)."
But it was the defense's performance that keyed the win, especially in the fourth quarter.
Kelvin Gilliam was responsible for both fourth-quarter turnovers for the Stars. He forced a fumble that was recovered by Blake Bennett, and it resulted in a 4-yard touchdown by Gilbert two plays later to push Centennial's lead to 21-7. Gilliam also tipped a pass that was intercepted by Kevin Motley on the Cougars' next possession.
"Our defense was very impressive," Goosby said. "We executed our scheme at a very high level. It really stems from our guys up front playing really sound football. They're playing with their hands and not trying to be superstars by dodging blocks or anything. (It allows) our linebackers to read and react and play fast."
Goosby said middle linebacker Dejwar Ali runs the defense. Ali finished with 4.5 tackles against Beechcroft.
"Our defense starts with intelligence and then relies on a whole lot of nastiness," Goosby said. "Dejwar is the nucleus of that entire defense. We have motion adjustments and formation adjustments. That's why I say it's an intelligent defense first. And all of those things start with Dejwar."
Linden has a roster of 23 players and is battling injuries, according to coach Eric Valentine.
"Our biggest thought is staying healthy," Valentine said. "We're pretty banged up and we're a small team going against bigger opponents week in and week out and it's starting to take its toll on us."
Girls soccer team making progress
The girls soccer team ran a marathon of three games in four days and came out on the other side with a big league win.
"(We're) progressing, but we still haven't played a complete team game yet," coach Barb Meleg said.
The Stars fell to Grandview 2-0 on Sept. 23 and Whetstone 1-0 on Sept. 24 before picking up a 7-0 win over Briggs on Sept. 26 to move to 2-1 in the City. They were 4-7 overall before playing Hamilton Township on Oct. 8.
"Grandview, we're thinking, is a team that we're going to lose to 10-0 because that's what history has told us," Meleg said. "But the girls played phenomenal and we only lost 2-0. But we went into the Whetstone game the next day clearly exhausted."
Centennial will have a rematch with Whetstone in the City title game Tuesday, Oct. 15, at Mapfre Stadium.
Brooke Loudner, Yana Napier and Zoe Velez scored two goals apiece and Rachel Schutte added a goal against Briggs.
"We're led by our seniors right now," Meleg said. "Yana Napier and Nina Zimmerman are the captains. They're pretty much the vocal leaders of the team. Yana is productive offensively. Nina is talkative and encouraging to her teammates."
Meleg has been impressed with her defense's effort, led by goalkeeper Sarah Clifton and defender Sophia Pizzurro.
"(Clifton) just shows up game after game and makes spectacular saves. She keeps us in quite a few games herself," Meleg said. "(Pizzurro) is pretty much our anchor in the back. Any team physically has a struggle getting past her."
Centennial is seeded 13th of 16 teams for the Division II district tournament and plays at second-seeded Granville in the first round Saturday, Oct. 12.
Boys golf team wraps up season
Sophomore Joel Ford and senior Turner Wolfenberger of the boys golf team both shot career-best marks in the City championships Sept. 26 at Airport.
Ford shot a 49 and earned second-team all-league. Wolfenberger had a 48 and ended up as honorable mention all-league.
Centennial shot a 238 in the league tournament to finish third behind Whetstone (181) and Walnut Ridge (219). The Stars also finished third in the final league standings with 24 points, behind Whetstone (38) and Walnut Ridge (32).
The Stars' season came to a close in a Division I sectional tournament Oct. 2 at Turnberry. Wolfenberger shot a 115 to tie for 74th and Ford shot a 121 to finish 76th.
Girls tennis team concludes season
The girls tennis team finished its season Oct. 3 in a Division II sectional at Columbus School for Girls.
Juniors Champa Bista and Michaela Smith each earned first-round wins in singles before falling in the second round, and junior Nicole Kaiser fell in her first-round matchup.
The doubles team of sophomores Lily Rogers and Jordyn Smith had a first-round bye but lost in the second round, and the team of sophomores Brianna Richardson and Foune Traore fell in their first-round matchup.
The Stars won't lose any players to graduation.
Below are the coming schedules for the Centennial boys soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 10 -- Home vs. Independence
Oct. 12 -- At Grandview
Oct. 16 -- Home vs. 10th-seeded Horizon Science or 18th-seeded Marion-Franklin in second round of Division II district tournament. The Stars are seeded fifth.
Oct. 10 -- Home vs. South
Oct. 16 -- Home vs. 12th-seeded Granville or 13th-seeded Buckeye Valley in second round of Division II district tournament. The Stars are seeded ninth.