Centre Cougar fans still are reveling in the 8-2 record the football team set in 2009 after years of losing seasons.
One of its most memorable games was the four-overtime contest with Hope at Cougar Field. Hope won in the end but it was virtually a draw.
The team finished the season second in the Eisenhower League and made it to the second round of playoffs before being shut out by Hanover.
Centre begins this season in the new Wheat State League along with eight other members: Elyria Christian (no football team), Goessel, Little River, Peabody-Burns, Wakefield, White City, Hope, and Solomon.
At least 32 athletes are on Centre’s roster. After losing Trevor Troutt and Zach Antoszyk to graduation, the 2010 team returns nine letter-winners including seven seniors.
Head coach Kelly Steiner, beginning his fifth year, sees their leadership as the team’s greatest strength.
“Many of these seniors have been playing at the varsity level since they were freshmen or sophomores,” he said.
Playing 8-man football, they will see action on both sides of the ball. They are Tanner Brunner, quarterback and linebacker; Casey Kristek, center and defensive end; Rustyn Kerbs, running back and safety; Cole Svoboda, end and cornerback; Brian Burhoop, end and defensive end; Jacob Jirak, guard and defensive end; and Benjamin Wirtz, guard and nose.
The two other returning letter-winners are juniors Kordell Harding, running back and linebacker, and Shane Methvin, end and cornerback.
Newcomers who are expected to contribute to the team are sophomore Kendall Harding as linebacker, sophomore Dylan Svitak as guard and center, junior Trevor Hageberg as center, and freshman Kyle Methvin as linebacker.
“There are several teams on our schedule that we have either never played before or it’s been a long time since we’ve played them,” Steiner said. “I’m not sure what to expect from them.”
Steiner declined to speculate on how the team will finish in the league standings, but he expects the Cougars to be competitive.
“I just hope that we are starting to gel and mesh together by the time districts get here,” he said. That is when I want us to be playing our best football.”
Tad Remy is Steiner’s assistant.
The Cougars opened the season with a 54-20 win Friday against Peabody-Burns.