The biggest concern facing Centennial football coach Donte Goosby isn't his team being complacent after it clinched its first playoff berth.
His biggest concern is the Stars adjusting to the level of their competition.
"I think (our players) have done the jobs themselves," Goosby said. "Anybody that will ask them about it, those guys aren't content with going to the playoffs. They expect to have a lot of success in the playoffs. (Being satisfied) isn't a worry of mine at all. I'm more worried about us adjusting to the level of competition just simply because the level of competition increases. Your margin for error reduces to nothing."
The Stars, who finished the regular season 9-1 overall and 6-0 in the City League-North Division, defeated Whetstone 55-7 on Nov. 1 to win the league championship outright. It is the first league title in program history.
"It feels amazing," junior linebacker C.J. Dean said. "Centennial making history and being a part of it (is special). My freshman year, we went 4-6. It wasn't a great start, but we kept coming back. We worked hard in practice and in the weight room and kept pushing ourselves and that's why we're where we are today."
Now, Goosby and the sixth-seeded Stars have turned the page to their Division III, Region 11 playoff opener Friday, Nov. 8, at third-seeded Jackson, which is 10-0 overall and won the Frontier Athletic Conference at 5-0.
Goosby got a taste of postseason preparation a couple years ago when he helped out Mifflin coach Anthony Thornton, who was Centennial's offensive coordinator in Goosby's first season in 2013.
"I got a glimpse of it," Goosby said. "That was the closest I had ever been to a playoff (atmosphere)."
What did he learn from that experience?
"Above all else, I learned that it was possible," Goosby said. "Also, just the amount of preparation ... that it takes to play a team in the playoffs, that was an experience that I gained."
Dean intercepted passes on the first two Whetstone possessions and Luchene Davis turned both of them into touchdowns on the following play to set the tone in the regular-season finale.
"The line put pressure on the quarterback," Dean said. "Goosby had us in the film room watching and I saw it coming. When he went out, he threw it right to me and I just took a chance."
Davis finished with 202 yards rushing and six touchdowns on 16 carries and contributed three tackles -- all for losses. He scored touchdowns on his first three carries.
"I felt great," Davis said. "My last regular-season game, it was amazing how I just started off hot. (Dean) set the tone on defense and it helped our offense accomplish (what) we needed to."
Davis tackled running back Darric McClinton Jr. for a 10-yard loss on second-and-goal from the 5 as Whetstone closed in on a score that could have made it a one-possession game in the second quarter. He sacked quarterback Alex Hurd for another loss of 10 on the following play, and Joren Clem came up short on a 42-yard field goal as Centennial maintained its 21-7 lead.
"I've played Luey at safety, at outside linebacker; he's played on the defensive line. We've even lined him up at corner a couple of times against Luke (Lachey) against Grandview," Goosby said. "He's one of those guys that you can put anywhere you need to put him in order for him to make a play and he's going to do that. That's just been his M.O. ever since he's been at Centennial."
Justin Grimes had 8.5 tackles, including 3.5 for loss, and a sack to lead the defense against Whetstone.
Jackson is coming off a 49-2 win over Chillicothe on Nov. 1 -- the only common opponent between the two. Centennial defeated the Cavaliers 48-15 on Sept. 20.
Jayden Spires ran 12 times for 107 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Ironmen on offense, and Macon Perrill had two interceptions as the defense forced five turnovers.
"They are what their record shows," Goosby said. "They've got a stout everything. They've got a quarterback that can really zip it and a couple of good receivers and, defensively, they're sound. What stands out to me is their toughness."
The winner faces second-seeded Jonathan Alder or seventh-seeded Thornville Sheridan in a regional semifinal Nov. 15 at a neutral site.