Corona Centennial has firmly established itself as the prominent program in the Inland Empire. The Huskies are coming off their second trip to the state bowl championships in the last three years and sixth Southern Section title since 2000.
Centennial enters 2011 in a unique situation, however. The Huskies lost standout quarterback Michael Eubank (Arizona State) and running back Barrinton Collins (Weber State) to graduation, but return four offensive linemen, the most experienced group Matt Logan has coached in 15 years at the school.
Centennial will have far fewer holes to fill on a defense that allowed an average of 14.2 points a game, though most were scored well after the game had been decided.
Here’s a closer look at the Huskies.
Team: Corona Centennial.
Coach: Matt Logan, 15th season.
2010 Record: 14-1. Lost to Palo Alto in the Division 1 state bowl championship.
Returning starters: 10 total. Four on offense, six on defense.
Key players on offense: RB Romello Goodman, OT Lio Lafaele, OG John Hamilton, OT Cameron Hunt, QB Hayden Gavett, OL Anthony Juarez.
Key players on defense: DL Milo Jordan, DL Ngata Tuihalamaka, CB Izaac Colunga, LB Ahkeel Chambers, OLB Isaiah Ashby, DB Miquan Johnson.
Difference maker: His statistics didn’t really stand out last season but Centennial defense lineman Milo Jordan sure did, routinely absorbing two or three blockers at a time, enabling a linebacker to roam free and make the tackle. Opposing coaches certainly noticed Jordan’s game-changing abilities, electing him defensive MVP in the Big VIII League. Jordan, at 6 feet 3, 280 pounds and firmly committed to Arizona State, is expected to be an even more intimidating force as the Huskies try to defend their Inland Division championship.
Newcomers: WR Chase Krivashei, WR Isaac Crandall, OLB Vann Dennis, WR Ryan Pascarella.
Not to be missed: Sept. 9 vs. Ventura St. Bonaventure. No better way to test those preseason rankings than to match a couple of top 10 teams in Week 1. Corona Centennial is historically a first-half team, often securing a double-digit lead before the band takes the field for intermission. St. Bonaventure, meanwhile, is known for its in-game adjustments and ability to come from behind. Should be a good one.
Coach’s comment: “Well be pretty physical on both sides of the ball,” Logan said. “It kind of depends how fast we can get experience [in the backfield]. It might take a couple weeks or so but we expect to be a much better team midway through the season.”
Final analysis: With the quarterback situation a lot greener this season and the nonleague schedule much tougher with the addition of St. Bonaventure, it’s possible the Huskies could take some lumps in the month of September. Any losses, as we’ve learned, are bad for the resume when it comes to awarding state bowl bids. Early on, as Hayden Gavett finds his wings at quarterback, it’ll likely be up to the defense to keep the Huskies in games, maybe even score a touchdown or two. If the Huskies live up to Logan’s expectations and begin to hit their stride midway through the season, that would leave them in good shape for Norco and Roosevelt, two of their main challengers for the Big VIII League title.