Football Season Shows Improvement, Hope For Future
November 20, 2018
A year ago at this time, the prospects for the Central Football Program were not good. They were coming off of an 0-9 season and did not have a head coach. 12 months later, prospects have changed. The Eagles found a head coach and the program seems to be heading in the right direction even though Central finished the season 3-6 and missed the State Playoffs.
First year head coach Jay Landstrom said, “I’m really happy” about how his first season in charge went. He said, “we obviously upped (our) win total which is good, but more importantly we know very few kids quit. We had our players buy in and stick with it and do what we asked. We were definitely hoping for another win or two, but I think we got the ball rolling.” He noted, “our team chemistry was really good, and the players worked hard, and they seemed to care which was important too.”
The 2018 campaign was certainly full of ups and downs. Central opened the season by handling Omaha Benson 52-26. The Eagles then fell to Creighton Prep and Burke in weeks two and three, but they looked like an improved football team against Burke. After that, Central got back in the win column with a 60-14 win over Omaha Bryan, a team they lost to last year. At 2-2, it looked like the Eagles had a legit shot to make the state playoffs for the first time in three years. But, back to back defeats put the Landstrom’s side at 2-4, and their season was at a crossroads.
The Eagles had a realistic shot to win two of the final three games on the slate and finish 4-5, which would put them close, if not in, to the playoffs. Central lost a heartbreaker 17-14 to Norfolk before beating Omaha South and falling to Bellevue West to close the season at 3-6.
Central averaged 185 rushing yards per game, nearly 100 yards better per game than 2017. Individually, DeAnthony Bridgeford-Jackett led the team in rushing with 508 yards on 98 carries and four touchdowns. That is good enough for 5.2 yards per carry and 63.5 rushing yards per game. Through the air, the Eagles averaged just shy of 100 passing yards per game. Abraham Hoskins III led the team in passing by going 62/117 for 804 yards over the course of the season. He averaged 89.3 passing yards per game to go along with five touchdowns and five INTs. Hoskins also ran the ball for 204 yards during the year. As a whole the Eagles averaged 286.6 total yards per game.
Landstrom said of his offense, “we got some work to do, but we were better than last year. We need to increase the number of big plays, and early in the year we really had too many penalties that stopped drives and got us in first and long, Second and long and stopped us from getting a first down. So we got to cut out the penalties. I thought our offensive line was really young. We started two juniors our tight end was Junior. Then, we started two freshmen and we had one senior. So our offensive line was really young but they did some good things that we can build on. Abe had a great year, he is a really good leader, he has a strong arm and throws the ball well. We’ll need to keep relying on him.” He said, “we need to find some ways to make bigger plays down the field, 15-20 yards, but, we have a fullback coming back in Devontae Perry, we have I-back DeAnthony Bridgford coming back and then we have two freshmen that played J.V and Varsity this year, Darnell Coles and Isaiah Spears, who I think can be really good.”
On the other side of the football, the Central Defense allowed 33.3 points per game, an improvement of over 10 points per game compared to last year. Landstrom said, “coach (Dennis) Baker did a great job with the defense, we are much better than a year ago. I think the biggest thing that we have to do is a better job of tackling, we have to get a better production from our inside defensive lines.” The Eagles had 592 total tackles on the year, 36.5 of which were tackles for loss, and 16 of those were sacks. “I thought our defensive ends had a really nice year, our corners did well, Donald Perry had a great game against Burke, Abe Hoskins was tough to throw against all year and Malaby Byrd came along too,” Landstrom said. Hoskins and Byrd each had one interception, while Hoskins broke up two passes and Byrd broke up 4. Perry added 2 interceptions to go along with 4 pass break ups. As a whole, the defense picked off 7 passes and broke up 25 more.
The statistics and the results on the field show progress certainly has been made. “I think from this time of year ago I think we’ve improved quite a bit. We’re not where we want to be. But like I said we got the ball rolling and we’re headed in the right direction,” Landstrom said. The freshman team went undefeated and the coaching staff is “super excited about them.” He also credits the varsity team for, “getting the ball rolling.”
In the offseason, the head man would like to see his players go out for other sports. He says it helps the players become better competitors and they still get to play for the school. Physically, “the offseason is all about getting faster, getting bigger, and getting stronger, and so we need to be in the weight room,” Landstrom said. “We need to be committed. We’ve got to have guys there every day and wanting to get better.”
“We need to have another great offseason and continue to want to be better and continue to not be satisfied.”