Centre High School football was a touchdown and extra-point away from a Sept. 18 victory over Hope in what turned out to be the determining title game in the final year of the Dwight D. Eisenhower League title in 2009.
In the newly formed Wheat State League, the Cougars will butt heads with two other 8-man Division 1 and 2 state playoff teams from a year ago, Goessel and Hope.
Also in the league are former Heart of America schools Goessel, Peabody-Burns and Little River, and six members of the defunct Eisenhower League: Hope, Solomon, Wakefield, White City and Elyria Christian.
The Cougars return seven seniors and nine letter-winners from last season’s 8-2 squad. Heading the list is Tanner Brunner, who returns at quarterback. He will be joined by two returning running backs, senior Rustyn Kerbs and junior Kordell Harding.
Playing at the ends for the Cougars’ balanced attack will be seniors Cole Svodoba, Brian Burhoop and junior Shane Methvin.
A senior-laden offensive line will open the holes in 2010. Center Casey Kristek will be joined by guards Jacob Jirak and Benjamin Wirtz. Sophomore guard Dylan Svitak and junior center Trevor Hageberg will fill in on the offensive front.
Playing a 3-5 formation, the Cougar defense will look to the senior core to perform.
At the line of scrimmage will be nose guard Wirtz, with Jirak and Kristek on the ends. Burhoop also will see time at defensive end.
Linebackers will consist of Brunner and the underclassmen Kordell and Kendall Harding and Kyle Methvin. Svodoba and Shane Methvin will play in the secondary.
Centre will compete in District 3 in 8-man Division 2. Other schools in District 3 are Midway, Hartford, Elk Valley, Flint Hills and Waverly.
Coach Kelly Steiner wants his team to be ready when the team enters district play.
“That is when I want us to be playing our best football,” he said.
Moving into the new league, Steiner said playing some of the opponents on the schedule will be a new experience.
“There are several teams on our schedule that we have either never played before or it’s been a long time since we’ve played them,” he said. “I’m not sure what to expect from them.”
Centre is picked to finish second in the Wheat State’s inaugural season behind Little River and followed by Goessel, Hope, Peabody-Burns, Solomon, Wakefield and White City.
Centre opens its season Sept. 4 by hosting Peabody-Burns.