Nine months after a memorable football season, the Center Yellowjackets are undergoing a major overhaul with their roster. Only seven of 22 starters return from a team that reached the Missouri Class 3 quarterfinals with an upset of previously-unbeaten Oak Grove.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
Among those seven, however, last season's successful ride hasn't been forgotten — and it might serve as the major motivating force in 2013.
"We have some guys who played last year, and they talk about what an experience it was winning a district final," Center coach Bryan DeLong said. "I want our players to keep that in their heads because the more they hear it, the more they want to experience it, too."
The task will be more difficult without two-way lineman Maliek Collins, now at Nebraska, running back Anthony Eskridge and wide receivers Isaiah Maxi and Nick Williams.
But the cupboard isn't completely bare. Gage King, a dynamic offensive player who occupies the 'Jackets' slot back position, leads an offense that adds quarterback Raheem Muhammad, who sat out last season because of eligibility issues.
"We're excited to get him back and see him doing the right things," DeLong said. "He's more of a runner, which has always been our philosophy at Center. We have speed, so we try to stretch the field outside and get the power game going inside."
The power game may be more successful in the early going. Of the returning players, three are multi-year starters on the offensive line. That includes Gary Starr and Robert Jones, who will probably play both ways much of the time, along with center John Teague.