Head coach: Chad Brown
Fourth season at Centennial (11-21); Sixth season overall (21-33)
Last season: 2-8 overall; 1-4 SWYL
Playoffs: None
History: League titles (10); Section titles (0)
Assistant coaches: Joey Risi, offensive coordinator/running backs; Nathan Claunch, defensive coordinator/linebackers; Sean Alexander, special teams/wide receivers/defensive backs; Kasey Tittlemier, offensive line; Chris Doukakis, offensive line; Chad Elmore, defensive line; Joe Bresson, quarterbacks; Todd Hansen, wide receivers/defensive backs 

2018 schedule

Aug. 17 - at North
Aug. 24 - vs. Golden Valley
Aug. 31 - at Merced-Golden Valley
Sept. 7 - at Santa Maria-Righetti
Sept. 14 - vs. Santa Maria-St. Joseph
Sept. 21 - BYE
Sept. 28 - at Liberty*
Oct. 5 - vs. Stockdale*
Oct. 12 - at Garces*
Oct. 19 - vs. Bakersfield*
Oct. 26 - vs. Frontier*
*SWYL game

Key Returner

Colby Warkentin, senior, TE/DE - A national recruit at defensive end, Warkentin is the Golden Hawks' leader this season. Had a team-high 16 tackles for a loss and seven sacks defensively, while he's a key to the offense at tight end.

Top players

Grant Bloom, senior, RB/DB - The leader of the secondary is a ballhawk with the ability to come up and play close to the line.

Kyle Connelly, senior, QB - Strong-armed right-hander will take over the quarterback role after the graduation of Will Alexander.

Ty Glass, sophomore, RB - Small in stature but is as fast as any running back in the county and has the ability to block in the run game.

Morgan Dutton, junior, WR/DB - Will be a two-way standout as a deep threat at receiver and a shutdown cornerback.

Defining feature

It’s all about finishing for Centennial.

Golden Hawks head coach Chad Brown barks out to his players continuously to finish a play during fall camp practices.

Whether it’s on the field, in the weight room or conditioning, the Centennial coaching staff wants this team to finish strong.

“It’s a word we have been harping on since January,” Brown said. “Last year we didn’t finish a whole lot of our games and that’s what kept us in the losing column.”

Centennial will have two standout senior leaders back on the field in Colby Warkentin — a national recruit at defensive end and a solid tight end on offense — and Grant Bloom — who had two interceptions and is one of the best cover safeties in the county.

Coming in is senior Kyle Connelly as a first-year starting quarterback.

“I think it really will start with Kyle,” Warkentin said. “He’s going to be ready this year. Kyle will be the real deal. We’ve got a lot of young guys, but they need to step up and finish.”

There will be a whole new offensive line with four graduating seniors gone, but Brown said the skill positions on offense will be a plus for the Golden Hawks.

“We have a few guys that really gave us significant time,” Brown said of Warkentin and Bloom. “They were great players … In the offseason here, they have really stepped up and led the guys that maybe didn’t get a lot of playing time last year as juniors to step up in the offseason and be ready to step in and have a good season.”

But with four games lost last season by nine points or less, again, the conversation heading into this season is about one thing.

“If we can finish,” Brown said. “We will be OK.”

What’s changed

The large senior class for Centennial in 2017 didn’t manifest itself into a successful season.

The Golden Hawks finished the season on a four-game losing streak and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

“We did graduate a ton of seniors,” Centennial coach Chad Brown said. “A lot of them were significant players for us.”

Four of the five starting offensive linemen, starting quarterback Will Alexander (now at Elon University on scholarship), the top-four receivers, lead running back and seven of the top-10 tacklers from 2017 are gone to graduation.

But there is hope with a lot of new players filling in holes left from 32 graduating seniors.

For a team that finished 2-8 overall in 2017 and went 1-4 in in Southwest Yosemite League games, that may not be a bad thing.

“It’s attitude. No one likes to lose out here,” Warkentin said. “Coming from a 2-8 and 3-7 records the past two years, that’s unacceptable and we are here to fix that.”

Warkentin admitted the chemistry was not there last season despite the large senior class.

“Last year we had a lot of leadership issues internally with the seniors and attitude,” Warkentin said. “But we completely rebuilt the program from the way we weight train and everything. It’s a whole new team. This is not the old Centennial.”

Grant Bloom is another leader on defense returning. Without a playoff game in his high school career, the ability to get some key wins during non-league will add confidence.

“It’s really important to me,” Bloom said. “The past two years here I haven’t had a winning season. I want to leave it on a good note and get as many wins as we can and go to the playoffs.”

Trevor Horn can be reached at (661) 395-7374. Follow him on Twitter: @trevhorn.

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