Coach: Bart Helsley
Last season: 6-5 (4-3 in District 4-5A), lost to Arlington Bowie 49-3 in Division I bi-district
Key players: DT T.J. Tauaalo (6-2, 275); RB/DB Justin Manuatu (5-9, 170); QB Jake McClurg (6-2, 170); LB Drew Bolin (5-10, 185); LB Collin Wright (6-0, 180); OL Austin Cutting (6-3, 260); OL Elijah Britton (6-4, 300); DB Matt McQuillan (6-0, 180)
The big picture: The Chargers are coming off their second consecutive postseason appearance, but Central is still in search of its first playoff victory. Central’s veteran defense, which returns eight starters, should keep the team in a lot of games again this season. Nose guard T.J. Tauaalo is a force upfront and could turn in a MVP-type season. If the offense can come together around second-year starting quarterback Jake McClurg, then the Chargers could be formidable. Justin Manuatu will pull double-duty as the team’s starting free safety and running back, but will split time in the backfield with several others. Central also should have a solid kicking game with the return of Hunter Morrow.
Quotable: “I’m really impressed with the improvements McClurg made over the summer as far as throwing the ball. That’s one of the things that’s really stood out in practice. There’s kids on both sides of the ball who showed up ready to go that you could tell they put a lot of time and effort into it over the summer.” — Coach Bart Helsley
“I think we’re going to be really good this year on defense. We’re fast, we’re always around the ball and extremely disciplined.”
— LB Collin Wright
Notable: After winning only 20 games in its first seven seasons (2004-10), Central has won 14 over the past two years.
Special to the Star-Telegram
Keller Central coach Bart Helsley has been impressed with the improvements second-year quarterback Jake McClurg, above, has made over the summer throwing the ball.
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