A new era of football kicked off last week as Jeff Carlberg roamed the sidelines in his first official game as Knights head coach. The former Alpharetta defensive coordinator brought with him to Centennial defensive intensity as well as the spread offense in the hopes of helping the Knights’ program break through with a deep playoff run.
The offense performed well over the summer in various 7-on-7 camps and in a recent scrimmage against Marist. Senior quarterback Chase Rosenberg is thriving in the new system, building a rapport with his receivers that should help the Knights challenge for a spot in the playoffs.
The Marist scrimmage was the first chance for the offense to really show itself against an unfamiliar foe, and Carlberg was quite pleased with how his team responded after falling behind early.
“We got off to a slow start because we weren’t playing with much aggression early on,” said Carlberg. “We were passive and not crisp. That started to change during the second quarter.”
Carlberg said he challenged the team at halftime and the Knights responded with two scoring drives in the third quarter.
The defensive ends played well in the scrimmage and Carlberg believes that line play will be critical if the Knights are to make a run in the playoffs. Caleb Howard, Drew Blesse, Lloyd Glenn and Lorenzo McWilliams will be looked at to pressure the opposing quarterback. Ryan Bennett should offer some leadership for the defense from his linebacker spot.
Rosenberg, Bennett’s co-captain, was on fire during the Marist scrimmage. Rosenberg passed for a pair of scores, both to standout wide receiver Christian Robinson, while throwing for more than 260 yards against the War Eagles’ defense. He also rushed for another score.
Last week, Centennial fell 42-13 to Roswell High School to open up the 2012 campaign as the Hornets were able to escape Ray Manus Stadium with the Mayor’s Cup. Roswell took advantage of several Centennial miscues to build an early lead. Centennial appeared on the verge of tying the game when the offense fumbled inside the Roswell 10-yard line. The fumble was one of five Centennial turnovers.
Roswell’s Andrew Kwateng ran for 236 yards and three scores, but 141 came on two long touchdown runs.
Centennial, meanwhile, was led by Cyril Teal’s 104 yards rushing. Patrick Inwood scored a rushing touchdown for the Knights, so expect to see those two offering a nice tandem out of the backfield. Rosenberg proved to be a threat with both his arm and his legs, completing 10-of-29 passes and chalking up 62 yards on the ground. Rosenberg moved the team down the field on its first two possessions to set up Devin O’Neill field goals.
While Centennial is no longer trying to pound the ball on the ground, the offensive line will still play a huge role in the team’s success. The line is anchored by senior Vincent Calhoun and sophomore Alexander Yankey, two studs up front that will look to buy Rosenberg enough time to find his receivers down the field.
Centennial has won its last three games at home and eight of its last 14 contests at The Fortress. Centennial last played Etowah in 2003, a 24-0 loss. The Knights are 1-1 all-time against Etowah.
Watch the Centennial versus Etowah game tonight, Friday, Sept. 7, on GPB-TV, - Channel 8 on most systems - at 8:05 p.m., with pregame live from Centennial at 7:30 p.m. Click this link to watch it online.
Fletcher Procter covers local sports for for Score Atlanta.