The original goal was 1,500 rushing yards as a team. But with the help of a matured group of seniors and a new offensive line coach (former pro Damion Cook), senior running back Walter Fletcher might be able to pass the barrier alone.
Fletcher has racked up 1,110 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns in the first six games. He’s 60 yards behind the fifth-ranked rushing leader in the area and accounts for all but 52 yards of Centennial’s rushing numbers.
“Right now, I’m hoping I can get to 2,000,” Fletcher said. “But 1,500 is fine by me.”
The 28 seniors on the Eagles (5-1) were there for Coach Todd Kriner’s first two losing seasons (Centennial hasn’t broke .500 since 2006) and hit a milestone with a 2-0 record to start the year, which the team last managed in 1980. That’s also the last time the Eagles went to playoffs.
“We’ve been playing against people that are older than us since our sophomore year, but now were at the same age and it’s really blossoming,” Fletcher said. “Chemistry has a lot to do with this season. We know each other’s fundamentals.”
Friday’s trip to Howard (4-2) precedes a Week 8 matchup against the only other 5-1 team in the county, Glenelg — a 3A East team currently two spots ahead the Eagles in MPSSAA point standings.
Everything is now falling into place, Fletcher adds, and the three keys for a win at Howard Friday and moving forward are technique, effort and assignment.
For Fletcher personally, it comes down the prayer and upbeat music — most recently Meek Mill’s “Dreamchasers 3” — and some solo time before the game to review his assignments with his headphones on.
And of course, the pump-up music of Ace Hood’s “We On” (the clean version) piped through the locker room before every game.
“We huddle up, say a prayer sometimes, have a pump-up speech from [assistant] coach [Reno] Brooks and come out more fired up than ever,” Fletcher said.
Formation change sparks Leonardtown
Leonardtown snapped a two-game losing streak with a win at La Plata Monday after switching from a wing-T offense to an I-formation. The change resulted in more than 150 yards each for running backs Tyrone Hayward and Marquez Queen and an opportunity for the Raiders to get back to basics going into Saturday’s trip to Westlake.
“It wasn’t easy but we though it was in the best interest of the team,” said Coach James Klenk on the switch. “It came down to simplification — let’s not get overly complex, let’s do the simple stuff and do it right and do it well. That was our motivation.”
The wing-T had the Raiders’ three running backs out there getting gassed, Klenk said, and the new formation leaves two on the sideline getting rest and ready to go.
“It seems like everyone that carries the ball for them has top-notch speed,” Klenk said. “Our defense just has to contain them as much as we can. We know we’re not going to stop them, but we can do our best to contain.”