Salina Central finished with a winning season in 2011, but missed the playoffs. The upcoming season could be a completely different story for the Mustangs, as it has the tools to make a run in the playoffs.
Coach: Michael Hall (Entering seventh season as head coach)
2011 Recap: Finished 5-4, entered district play at 5-1, but lost every game in districts.
2012 District: Salina South, Great Bend, Hays
The Salina Central offense is poised to have a tremendous year behind the legs of Malik Veal. The junior running back’s breakout 2011 season could be just the tip of the iceberg for what he can accomplish in 2012 and beyond for the Mustangs. The Central run game averaged just 3.6 yards per carry, but gained 212.3 yards per game on the ground in 2011.
The Mustang offense line boasts some big boys. Between Luis and Ivan Jimenez, Vince Johnson, Grant Dodge and Cordell Wilcome, none of them weigh in at less than 240 lbs. These guys will provide holes for Veal to power through, and when Veal gets in open space, that 3.6 yards per carry number will become obsolete.
The junior-senior duo of Kamen Kossow and Spencer Schrader will be receivers and will be threats downfield once a run game is established. Also lining up with Kossow and Schrader will be Dajon Samuels. Central’s pass game has potential to be powerful, as the offensive line will give its quarterback all day to pass and find one of his receivers.
The Mustang defense will need to cut down on points allowed in 2012. Last season, it allowed 30.6 points per game, while its offense put up 32.7 points per game. This is a team that is not afraid to put up points, but it shouldn’t have to feel like it needs to put up points. Every team likes to score, no teams like a shootout.
Salina Central held the worst run defense in AVCTL Div. 1 as it allowed 7.1 yards per carry. However, this group is older, more mature and more experienced. It will not be afraid to take opponents down hard in 2012. That’s exactly what it will need to do to cut that 7.1 down drastically.
Central’s defensive line is young, as Lucas Berndt, Sam Allen and Michael Walker are all juniors that will likely see playing time this year. Couple those players with seniors Todd Humiston, Zach McCready and Rakeen Allison and the Mustangs may have one of, if not the most dominate defense in AVCTL Div. 1 in 2012.
ODDS AND ENDS:
Where Central ran into trouble last year was in district play, when it lost to huge rival Salina South 44-41 in what was arguably the 2011 game of the year. It didn’t bounce back as it lost its next two games to Great Bend and Hays.
The Mustangs still have the same teams in its district as in 2011, so it will be interesting to see if the 2012 South game has just as much impact on this team as it did last year.
Central plays just three games away from Salina District Stadium. It will meet Newton, Derby and Maize at their fields but all other six games will be held at its home stadium. The Mustangs start their season against defending 5A state champion Hutchinson Aug. 31.