ROSWELL, Ga. – The Centennial Knights will begin the 2012 football season with a new head coach, a new system and a largely new cast of players.
Jeffrey Carlberg, a successful defensive coordinator in recent years at both Lassiter and Alpharetta, takes over for Jeff Measor as head coach. Measor led the Knights to the playoffs two of the last three years, but Centennial had only one winning record during his five seasons, going 6-4 in his first year as head coach.
Carlberg inherits a team that lost most of its offensive talent and struggled on defense against the top teams the Knights faced.
“We have a chance to be successful,” said Carlberg, who was at Alpharetta the last two seasons. “We’re pretty athletic. I think we can compete with anybody we’re playing.”
The Knights lost quarterback Jimmy Meyer and wide receiver Wade Francis, both college signees, along with top running back Zietrick Smith.
Carlberg is scrapping Measor’s veer offense in favor of a spread attack. Senior Chase Rosenberg takes over for Meyer, who put up some big numbers in a run-oriented offense.
Rosenberg is having to adjust to the new system, but Carlberg said his quarterback has done a good job of learning the offense.
“He’s got a pretty good handle on it, but he still has a long way to go,” Carlberg said.
Carlberg is counting on his Knights to have enough success running the ball and avoid having to rely predominantly on their passing game.
Cyril Teal, a starter at wingback in the veer, moves to running back and gives the Knights some speed at the position, with Patrick Inwood more of an inside runner.
The top returnee for the Knights is standout junior wide receiver Christian Robinson, who had 48 receptions for 831 yards last season and will be the team’s primary weapon.
“But we have four or five guys who can make plays,” said Carlberg.
Senior Vincent Calhoun will be among the area’s top offensive linemen, with junior Chris Conway and promising sophomore Alex Yankey also back. The Centennial linemen are also having to adjust to the new scheme, with more of an emphasis on pass protection.
Defensively, the Knights will be sound up front, Carlberg said.
“We have some talent.”
Andrew Estes, who played extensively as a sophomore, returns to the defensive line along with Lloyd Glenn and Caleb Howard. Transfer Lorenzo McWilliams is expected to be a valuable addition. Carlberg expects Glenn and McWilliams to get some looks from college recruiters as the season goes along,
Alex Estes, Andrew’s twin brother, moves from the line to middle linebacker, meanwhile Carlberg looks for big things from outside linebacker Kola Blogun.
Carlberg admitted the Knights will be “pretty thin in the secondary.”
“We don’t have a lot of numbers,” he said.
Corey Grimes moves from corner to safety, with Arnold Johnson taking over at one corner. They will be under some pressure.
“We’ll be going up against a couple of good quarterbacks,” Carlberg said. “When a defensive lineman makes a mistake, the coaches know about it. When a defensive back makes a mistake, everybody in the stands knows.”
The Knights will also need to replace graduated kicker Connor Davis, who played a vital role in some of the team’s narrow victories last year. Junior Devin O’Neill will be his replacement.
Centennial opens its season at home Aug. 31 against local rival Roswell.