There’s no use fretting about being trapped in the best district in the state. With that in mind, Central coach Sid Edwards is simply focusing inward for the 2018 season.
District 4-5A produced six playoff teams in 2017, and 2018 doesn’t look like it’s going to be much different. As the No. 32 seed, Central was the last team in, and Edwards is hopeful of improving upon that.
“I think we’re going to be improved,” said the veteran Edwards, who has taken the Wildcats into the post season in eight of his nine seasons. “The question remains: ‘Will it show?’ We’ve got Dunham, Dutchtown and Jesuit in pre-district, and then the best district in Louisiana.
“You could say ‘arguably,’ but it’s not arguable any more,” Edwards said. “We’ll be a better club. It’s going to come down to any given Friday night: how we perform, who we’re playing, how they’re playing. I don’t think we’ve got it all together yet, but I like my team.”
Reigning state champion Zachary sets the bar high but Central will be trying to move up in the pack with Denham Springs, Live Oak, Walker and Scotlandville in the way.
The Wildcats have 10 starters back, including their quarterback, but will fight an uphill battle as one of the smallest teams in the league.
The offense starts with junior quarterback Sam Kenerson, whom Edwards said has dedicated himself to football in the offseason. A member of Central’s two-time state championship baseball team, Kenerson’s summers have been focused in the diamond but that changed last June.
Edwards said the Wildcats’ spread offense will have some option sprinkled into it to take advantage of Kenerson’s running ability.
“Kenerson has gotten stronger,” Edwards said. “I usually don’t see him when football is over, but he made a real effort this summer to get into the weight room and build his body and gain some strength. He was banged up early last year. We got him back in game 4 or 5. He’s worked hard and his passing has improved.”
Kenerson is blessed with three returning receivers – all seniors – who give him a variety of targets.
Destin Franklin (5-7, 160) is a very quick and elusive player who can turn a short gain into a big play. When Kenerson needs size and strength, he can throw it up for Jalyn Murphy (6-2, 190) or Le’Derrick Thomas (6-0, 185). Thomas missed some time during fall practice but should be healthy for the season opener and Murphy is a still learning basketball player who just came out for football last year.
In the backfield, Isaiah Rankins is back after starting much of last season and Edwards also has a power option with Riyan Cotton (6-0, 220), a linebacker who will get some snaps on offense.
The offensive line is more problematic and was still coming into focus with a week left to fall practice.
Center Max Bryant (5-10, 210) and offensive tackle Peyton Hunt (6-3, 250) are set but the rest of the line is still developing. Hunt played a lot last year and might pair with Andrew Cangelosi (6-0, 190) as bookend tackles, but Cangelosi could also wind up at guard. Kyrin Ely and Cole Netherland are also in the hunt for starting jobs.
“The line is coming together,” Edwards said. “We’ll have the smallest front in the district but they’re technicians and work well together. I feel good about their progress.”
There’s much more rebuilding on defense, but Edwards has a good base with linebacker Drew Lasseigne (6-3, 230) a three-year starter. Other returning starters are senior cornerback Jacoby Putman (5-10, 180, Sr.) and defensive tackle Javonte Whiten (6-0, 200).
Edwards said safety Parker Evans (6-2, 210), who will also play at H-back and punt, will play a key role as will safety Anthony Shaffer (6-2, 175). Tyler James (5-10, 210) will line up next to Whiten at tackle with Matthew Hunt (5-9, 190) and Tyler Scott (6-0, 220) at the ends. Hunt played linebacker last year.
Jermaine Spears (5-8, 165) pairs off with Putman at cornerback. The remainder of the linebacker corps will have senior Greason Henegan, senior Kamrin Sartin and sophomore Dakota Dupree in the rotation with Cotton, who will need an occasional breather from playing both ways.
Punting is in good hands with Evans who was effective in the job last season. Edwards came up with soccer player Andrew Medine as a last-minute placekicker.