Here is an inside look at the 2021 Center Hill football team.
Head Coach: Alan Peacock (11th year, 44-71 overall)
Last Year: 5-5 (3-4 in Region 1-5A)
QB/S Mark Holmes
RB Amari Dawkins
DL Erik Covington
After seven seasons without reaching the playoffs, last year’s Mustangs looked poised to break through with an experienced offense and a defense that would hold its own in 5A.
After a 5-2 start, everything changed. Positive COVID-19 tests forced them to forfeit consecutive games, and the Mustangs slipped out of the playoff picture with a season-ending loss to West Point. All of this came without a full offseason, which is something the Mustangs are fortunate to have headed into the 2021 season.
“Missing that last year stunk, obviously,” coach Alan Peacock said. “The good thing last year was that we had a lot of seniors coming back, especially on offense. This year, we really needed this offseason… We’re really young. We’ll have guys play this year that didn’t even play last year.”
Another thing Center Hill has going for it is an offense that is unique and can give even the best defenses problems: the flexbone offense.
“It’s so different,” Peacock said. “You don’t see it as mainstream. We read people. It’s really difficult to prepare for. We keep offenses off the field and control the clock. We have to make sure or offense keeps our defense rested and ready to go 100 miles per hour.”
Some of those guys Peacock expects to make that happen include quarterback Mark Holmes and 700-yard back Amari Dawkins. Zach Hines also provides some much needed veteran presence as the team’s starting center.
As strong as the Mustangs are down the middle of the formation, their defense finds their strength on the edge defensively. Erik Covington and Delvin Johnson make up a deadly one-two punch at defensive end while Johnathan Rogers and Jason Painter are names to watch both playing outside linebacker.
There are other challenges the Mustangs will be dealing with as well other than developing a young squad. The move to 6A will have Center Hill competing with teams that are familiar based on their county, but are heavily battle tested against the state’s highest level of competition. The Mustangs are leaving a competitive region as well, however.
“All our kids know each other,” Peacock said. “Hopefully we’ll have some big crowds. There never were easy games in 5A Region 1 so don’t expect there to be any easy ones in 6A Region 1 either. You have to come to play every Friday night. We have to focus on ourselves and not on others and play with good effort.”
Center Hill will open their 2021 season on the road at Clarksdale on August 27.