High School Football Preview: Center Point Eagles

College Sports

CENTER POINT, Ala. (WIAT) — What a difference a year can make. In 2013 the Center Point Eagles were flying high in the 5A world, going 9-1 in the regular season. In 2014, the script was flipped when they moved to 6A, stumbling to a 1-9 finish. “In 2013 there was leadership,” said junior linebacker N’Kosi Steele. “In ’14, after we started losing games the leadership went away. This year we’re bringing it back and becoming a team.”

The 2014 edition of the Eagles was littered with injury problems, most notably to quarterback Keilan Knight. “Not only did he bit us, it felt like he pulled up a chair and had dinner with us,” said head coach Bennie Hall of the injury bug. “We’ll look to make sure we’re doing what we need to do in the weight room, which can help with injuries, and doing things technically right on a consistent basis.” The riddle of injuries hurt the 2014 team, but it also provided playing time for several players that will be stepping into more prominent roles in 2015. “I just want to win like they [2013 team] did and be able to shock everybody, because they say we’re a young team that’s not going anywhere this year,” said running back Isaiah Martin. “So I want to show them what a young team can do and go all the way.”

OFFENSE: Bald eagles can reach speeds nearing 100 mph when they’re diving in for food. While the Center Point species may not go that fast, the team feels they have wheels when they’re smelling the endzone. “I’m fast and people cannot come up to my speed, so I’m ready to get the ball this year so I can show the defense what I can do,” said Steele. His partner in pacing, Martin, also feels defenses will know his name from the back of his jersey. “I run track so I’m out there to show my speed, make moves, make people miss and get into the endzone every time I get the ball,” he said. Hall did not say who would be starting at quarterback this year, but Chris Baker, who stepped in when Knight went down, is back. “We’ll be a lot more spread-type, throw the ball around a little bit more,” said Hall. “In the past we’ve been more of a downhill, pro-style offense. We’ll still do some of that, but we’ll be more spread this year.” Some of that may be due to depth issues. The Eagles list only nine offensive linemen on their roster, only one who is a senior. Steele specifically mentioned junior Cordarius Hall as being an important piece up front. The versatile Chestin Jones, a running back that’s also a deep threat, is back. To be competitive in one of the toughest regions in the state, the 10.3 scoring average from last season must improve drastically.

DEFENSE: Clay-Chalkville. Gardendale. Pinson Valley. Those words would strike fear into the heart of any defense. Despite the murderer’s row of offenses, the Eagles still gave up a manageable 27.1 points per game. It’s a new day and age with numbers as teams light up scoreboards around the country. That makes the fundamentals all the more important. “Being technically sound in space because everybody wants to get quality athletes in space,” said Hall. “We have to make sure we’re fundamentally sound tackling-wise and being able to handle people in space.” Six seniors are listed on the defensive side of the ball for Center Point. On the defensive line, Kente’ Cherry and Namion McSwain are two pillars the Eagles will rely on. There are seniors in the secondary, but Hall did not give any indication on the state of his team outside of the defensive line. He did say the philosophy is to be as predatory as their avian namesake. “Very quick, aggressive, and hopefully being in the right place at the right time,” he said.

If you look to the past for motivation, the Eagles have to look no further than last year. For proof, they simply have to look to the year before. Hall hopes his players remember the steps it took to climb to 9-1, and the bitter taste of 1-9. “They saw the things that happened last year,” he explained. “They got a first-hand look at what can happen when you don’t do the things you need to do. Right now I couldn’t be more pleased with the way these kids are getting after it.”Center Point Eagles 2015 Football Schedule:

8/21 – @ Fairfield

8/28 – @ Pleasant Grove

9/4 – @ Shades Valley

9/11 – Woodlawn

9/18 – @ Gardendale

9/25 – Parker

10/2 – Clay-Chalkville

10/9 – @ Huffman

10/16 – Pinson Valley

10/23 – @ Bessemer City

10/29 – @ McAdory

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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