Graduation, injuries force Central to adjust
It has not been a boring series of preseason practices for Central High School.
Many positions had to be decided in the past week because of numerous graduated players, including quarterback Taylor Sanchez.
“We don’t have a quarterback who’s an athlete like Taylor was, so we’re getting back to the line and we’re going to have to be tough up front,” Central coach Vern McGee said. “We have decent size, but we’re not big by any means, so we’ll try to run the ball more out of the I (formation).”
The starting quarterback position obviously has been up for grabs. Noah Sanchez is a senior fullback and linebacker who could end up winning the starting position and moving to QB. Michael Price and Dom Fonseca are other candidates.
In fact, the majority of the starting positions were available before practices began.
“For some reason, a lot of kids think, ‘Well, they’ve got that spot, and I’m not going to battle them,’ ” Central offensive coordinator Casey Doss said. “This year is different. It’s, ‘Hey, I want to take that spot.’
“I don’t want to have a bunch of guys’ (positions) locked down. To me, I want it to be like college. I want it to be where a guy is having to battle and lock it down and you get competition.”
Central’s strength might be its defense.
“As a staff, everybody is pretty excited about the defense,” Doss said. “We’ve got some players who go smack people in the mouth. Offensively, I think if we get a line going, we’ll be OK.”
Losing running back Justin Eller to a broken knee on the second-to-last play of the Colorado Mesa University camp is a loss the Warriors will have to overcome. Eller started for Central as a freshman last season.
“He’s done for the year,” McGee said. “Hopefully he’ll be back for basketball.”
Some good news: Central returns Conner Williamson, a senior outside linebacker whom McGee said averaged 11 tackles per game last season before missing the final three games with a broken collarbone.
“As a freshman in hitting drills, there was something different about him,” McGee said.
“He’s fast — you either have it or you don’t, and he’s fast. I remember (as a freshman) one coach saying you don’t have to see his hits, you can hear them.”
Williamson even started as a sophomore and has grown to 6-foot-2, 200 pounds — with speed. He will be featured in a 3-5 or 4-3 defense, a switch from the 4-4 defense Central has run the past four years.
“We’re not big, but we have speed, and we can bring some safeties in to play some outside linebacker for us as well,” McGee said.
But Central still will be adjusting its offense without Sanchez and Eller. The Warriors, minus Sanchez’s athleticism, will no longer run the spread. They began practicing the I formation this summer, but that changed with the loss of Eller.
Dusty Sanchez, a standout wrestler, could be the man to step in for Eller.
“He looked good and hasn’t played for four years,” McGee said.
So, who knows?
“We always evaluate who we’ve got coming back from previous seasons,” Doss said. “We feel like we’ve got some good receivers.”
Those receivers, Doss said, would be seniors Ed Becoat and Josh Weller.
Those, at least, had been decided before mini camps.
“Everybody is getting hurt, and then someone else steps in,” McGee said. “It’s been a weird year.”