After a winless year in 2007, the Centre Cougars are eager for a taste of victory.
The team includes eight seniors, five juniors, seven sophomores, and three freshmen.
The eight returning letterwinners bring a lot of experience and a hope for better days.
“We had a lot of underclassmen playing last year and hopefully that experience will help us this fall,” said Coach Kelly Steiner. “We should be faster this year, especially on defense.”
According to Steiner, sophomore Tanner Brunner, a six-foot one-inch linebacker weighing 155 pounds, is one of the team’s hardest hitters.
Brandon Albrecht, a 5-10, 170-pound senior, won all-league honors as a running back in 2007. Steiner said he is a hard runner.
Ben Krause returns as the quarterback. He is a 5-10, 170-pound senior.
Offensive lineman Josh Leach, a 6-1, 210-pound senior, is assisted by junior Zach Antoszyk, a 5-8, 145-pound linebacker.
Anchoring the defensive line will be junior Trevor Troutt, defensive lineman, at 6-3, 230-pounds.
Among others who bear watching, according to Steiner, is Josh Olsen, a 6-1, 150-pound senior who has “come on strong” in practice and is expected to help the team at the end position. Junior Alex Hajek, at 6-1, 150 pounds, contributes good speed.
Others expected to see a lot of playing time are: Adam Kristek, a senior and returning letterwinner, 5-7, 180-pounds; Brian Burhoop, a 6-1, 150-pound sophomore; Casey Kristek, a 5-9, 155-pound sophomore; Rustyn Kerbs, a 5-8, 145-pound sophomore; and Jacob Jirak, a 5-11, 190-pound sophomore.
Senior Konley Harding, who would have added strength and depth to the team, is out of action after suffering a broken ankle this summer. He hopes to return to the squad in a few weeks.
Adam Matz is the team manager.
Centre football is classified as eight-man II this year for the first time, based on an enrollment of 57 in grades nine-11.
Steiner said the early schedule is tough and should prepare the players for district competition.
The season opened Friday with a home contest against Goessel. It will be followed this Friday with a game at Canton-Galva, which is classified as an eight-man team this year.
The two league games will be at Hope Sept. 19 and against Wakefield at home Sept. 26. Hope is expected to be the league leader, with a good number of returning lettermen.
In October, Centre will play Elk Valley, Waverly, and White City at home and St. Paul on the road in district play.
“If we can get through those early games and stay free of injuries, we can be competitive, especially in district play,” Steiner said.
Steiner is in his third year as football coach at Centre High School. He has an overall record of 4-14.
Steiner is assisted by instructor Stan Wiles and former CHS Cougar Tad Remy.