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Central: 2014 football preview

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Sat. August 9, 2014 | Derek J. LaRiviere

Central: 2014 football preview

Coach: Chris Sands (first season)

Last season: 0-10

Class/district: 5A-6

Colors: Blue and silver

Stadium: Bears Den, 14075 Ken Austin Parkway, Brooksville

Playoff appearances: 1995, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2006

Last appearance: Lost 21-20 to Daytona Beach Seabreeze.

Season schedule

Aug. 29 at Hudson, 7:30

Sept. 5 at The Villages, 7:30

Sept. 12 vs. Poinciana, 7:30

Sept. 19 vs. Nature Coast, 7:30

Sept. 26 at South Sumter,  7:30

Oct. 3 at Weeki Wachee, 7:30

Oct. 10 vs. Springstead, 7:30

Oct. 17 at Zephyrhills, 7:30

Oct. 24 vs. Pasco, 7:30

Oct. 31 vs. Hernando, 7:30

Mark your calendar

Central at Weeki Wachee, Oct. 3: The optimism of the Central coaching staff shows that the Bears are expecting to win multiple games, which would surpass their seasonhigh at any point over the past five years. Upstart Weeki Wachee has defeated Central in each of their first two meetings, and the players have to be hungry to topple the Hornets.

Huddle highlights

The numbers game: After starting the season with only 30 players last year, Central has 55 on the current roster. Sands and his staff have attracted hungry, young players with their positive attitudes. Transfers have been leaving the Bears program to go to Nature Coast, Springstead and Hernando for years, but the tide has seemingly turned as the new regime has garnered a handful of incoming transfers.

Running down a dream: Associate head coach Jeff Woods has gained a reputation as one of the best conditioning coaches in the country after stints in the role with Southern Methodist, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Florida A&M. Endurance and mental toughness are hallmarks of Sands’ philosophy.

Talent-laden: Before taking the position, Sands explained that he watched film on his potential new team. He was impressed by the amount of raw talent he saw. As a former standout offensive lineman at Florida A&M, he knows what it takes to play at the collegiate level, and he believes that there are multiple Central athletes that will make the leap.

Bumpy road: While being competitive in district play is always a goal, some districts don’t offer the same kind of potential for success as others. With opponents like Pasco, Zephyrhills, Nature Coast, Hernando and South Sumter primed for the postseason, up-and-coming teams need confidence, momentum and a little bit of luck to make big strides.

Known quantities

LB John Templar, Sr.: Even at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, Templar is getting college interest, which shows just how energetic and intense he is when playing the linebacker position. He blocked an extra point and was instrumental on a goal-line stand during the spring game against Tavares. Expect his 55 tackles as a junior to increase.

LB Chris Hernandez, Sr.: With 126 tackles last season, Hernandez was all over the field at middle linebacker, putting up the highest tackle total for a Central defensive player in more than a decade. Starting since he was a freshman, he has a great football IQ and will undoubtedly serve as the leader.

QB Cody Brooks, Sr.: With almost 200 yards through the air and more than 100 on the ground, Brooks cemented his role as the team’s starting quarterback for the upcoming season. Brooks has held the role before, but injuries have derailed his progress under center. Sands believes Brooks is the right man to lead his balanced offense.

C Mike Helfand, Sr.: As the bread and butter of Sands’ background, the offensive line needed a leader that the coach could count on. Despite playing primarily defensive line during his previous prep experience, Helfand’s leadership and intelligence stood out immediately to the coaching staff, and he is expected to be the anchor at 6-foot-1, 245 pounds.

Up-and-comers

RB Devante Smith, So.: Expectations are high for Smith, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound bruiser that also runs a 4.4-second 40. “He could be one of the top two players in the county,” Sands said. He gave fans a taste of it last season against Pasco with 16 carries for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

WR/DB Breon Wyatt, Sr.: Solely a basketball player for much of his high school career, Wyatt went out for football for the first time last spring and immediately made an impression. In the spring game, he had two receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown, while also coming down with an interception on defense. His ball skills are the best on the team.

DT Andre Timmons, So.: A Nature Coast transfer, Timmons will serve as the run-stopping tackle in the middle of the defensive line. At 6-foot, 285 pounds, he is a load but also is equipped with good feet and good hands. He should make an impact opening up things for the linebackers and defensive ends around him.

Coach’s corner

“One thing we have to develop as a program is mental toughness. Pushing through the wall when things get tough out there on the field is our biggest issue. Last year, the players fizzled downward toward the end of the game, and we want them to push through that.” — Sands

Teams in post

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