The last time I watched a Centennial High School team compete, it walked away with a gold ball as the Class 3A boys basketball state champions. That night in the Big House seems like a distant memory now, and stakes aren’t as high for the Centennial football team tonight. But this game is still very important to the Bison.
They open the football season against Capitol Hill at Star Spencer (Centennial’s home stadium) tonight at 7, and they do so without their head coach, Mark Ryan. He continues to battle an illness that has kept him away from his team for the last month. The Bison will take the field under acting head coach Michael Baldwin and a group of assistants — mostly volunteers — in hopes of building on the athletic success the young school got to enjoy in basketball season.
What to watch for: Centennial
Some of the Bison’s top returners transferred out, so this team is putting a lot of youngsters into action. But they had a solid showing at the All-City Preview, getting to the consolation final. This is a team that just needs to keep moving forward right now.
There’s no timetable for coach Ryan to return, so Baldwin just has to keep them focused on the present. Judging by what I saw at practice, the Bison have a few guys with good size to play up front, and plenty of speed at the skill spots, which is worth a lot in a game like this.
What to watch for: Capitol Hill
The Redskins are under the guidance of first-year head coach Jason Webster, who was promoted from offensive coordinator. He’s a young guy who has been at a variety of places and has a clear passion for leading young people.
He has a mostly new staff, but they were able to keep a group of athletes committed to getting better over the summer. This game will be important for showing the direction of his new program.
The pick: Capitol Hill 20, Centennial 18. This kicks off six games in 10 days for me, and I don’t plan on seeing any blowouts.