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October 24, 2014

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Northwest Division Preview:

Jacobi Owens, Trajan Pili lead revitalized Centennial program into season

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Sam Morris

Centennial High School football players Jerod Cody, Jacobi Owens and Isiac Catmull.

Centennial High coach Leon Evans

Centennial High football coach Leon Evans talks about the 2011 season.

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer celebrate the return of football season with an hour-long podcast diving into anything and everything regarding local high schools. They also look back on the victories by Bishop Gorman and Moapa Valley in the Sollenberger Classic and finish with week one picks.

The pressure associated with the first year after taking over coaching duties at a new school didn’t apply to Centennial’s Leon Evans in 2010.

In his first year at the helm, Evans led Centennial to the best season in recent memory at the school. The Bulldogs finished third in the Northwest division and got to the second round of the postseason after beating Desert Oasis.

“We want to take it another step,” Evans said. “We’ve talked about that. We’re looking to go beyond one win and out this year.”

Centennial will likely go as far as its senior leaders can take it. On offense, the Bulldogs are counting on running back Jacobi Owens to carry the load.

Owens was the leading rusher for the team last year, but by less than 100 yards. The Bulldogs had three running backs, including Owens, who averaged at least eight carries per game.

With two of the three players graduated, Evans said he could tell Owens was taking his increased responsibility for moving the ball seriously.

“I think he is excited for the opportunity,” Evans said. “He’s waited behind some guys and knows it’s time.”

Junior running back Coby Newton, who has a running style similar to Owens, is also expected to contribute. If all goes according to plan, Newton and Owens could just fall forward for a few yards every play.

Evans has that much confidence in his offensive line, a unit senior Jerod Cody will lead. Cody is also an imposing factor at defensive end.

Defense is where the Bulldogs left their mark last season. They held half of their opponents to two touchdowns or less last season.

“That’s how we want to be known,” Evans said. “We are going to hit hard and not make it easy on anyone to move the ball against our defense.”

Trajan Pili will serve as a challenge for any of the heralded running backs in the Northwest division to get past. Pili is a sure tackler and one of the best linebackers in the city.

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall affirmed as much this summer when he offered Pili a scholarship. Pili immediately accepted.

But his college future is far from his mind as the season approaches with the chance to take Centennial to another level.

“We have a lot of potential,” Pili said. “Hopefully, we can go pretty far this year.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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