By Tommy Keeler Jr.
WOODSTOCK -- Central may have lost 21 seniors to graduation, but there's still good reason for optimism at the school this year.
The Falcons have very few players with starting experience, but head coach Mike Yew has been very pleased with what he's seen in the preseason.
"Every year we get asked in the community how we're going to be and what were going to look like," Yew said. "I don't think that question has ever been more relevant than this year with us losing 21 seniors. There's a lot of speculation with people think we won't be this, we won't be that. I've told our kids that my honest answer to everyone that has asked me that in the community has been I don't know how good we're going to be but I know that I have 44 kids right now that are working their tails off. I couldn't be more proud of their effort."
On offense Yew said the Falcons will run more in the pistol set, basically using the I formation from the shotgun.
Senior Sam Barbour will take over the reins at quarterback replacing Hayden Basuerman, who threw for 2,764 yards last season.
"He's been a backup [quarterback], he's played a little bit here and there," Yew said of Barbour. "He's done a really good job for us. Last year in four B team] games, went 3-1 in those. He's just been a good leader. He's not a yeller. He doesn't yell and holler at everybody but he leads by example.
"He's been the backup the last two years behind Hayden and it's his time to shine."
Junior Hank Hoover, who saw a little time at running back last year, is expected to start at tailback. Jeese Cloyd will be the starter at fullback. Cloyd started for Hamilton Argueta, when he went down with an injury in the seventh game of the season, and the Falcons used Cloy in the fullback role the rest of the way.
"We put Jesse in there and then all of a sudden we were like, 'Hey, he can get it done' and that freed Hamilton up to be an even better linebacker," Yew said. "Hamilton still played at fullback from time to time, even played in the Power-I set, but from then on Jesse was our fullback. It was a nice blessing to find out."
Marshall McAboy, Carston Shockey and A.J. Crider will also be used at running back for the Falcons.
The Falcons had a lot of depth at wide receiver last year and they will have a brand new cast of players to throw to this season.
Yew said Tristan Rau and Connor Hammack will likely be the starters, while Shockey, Varsay Bright and Saxson Franklin will also see time there.
Freshman Bryan Davis will start at tight end.
The offensive line will be led by Riley Peters, who started some last year for the Falcons when Brandon Phillips went down with an injury. Peters will start at left tackle. Tood Stocking will be at left guard, with Alex Sibert at center, Cody Polk at right guard and Codey Heltzel at right tackle.
"It's been a learning curve," Yew said of the line. "That's the biggest thing for all those guys. We moved todd Stocking and Cody Polk from fullback to guard, which in our offense if you're not the tailback -- it's really just nine other blockers out there blocking. So, they've embraced the transition and they're doing fine."
On the defensive line, Matt Edwards, Harold Wakeman and Domenic Richel Emph will lead the way. Yew said the other spot will be rotated between Peters and Heltzel.
The Falcons have a plethora of players that will see time at linebacker. Hoover saw some time there last season. Stocking, Polk, Brandon Braithwaite, McAboy, Cloyd and Barbour will also split time at linebacker.
Yew said the secondary is very up in the air. Hammack, Rau, Franklin, John Hepner, Bright and Shockey are among those battling for playing time.
Yew said one of his main goals for the season is to simply be better at the end of the year.
"When we line up in week 10, the last game of the regular season, I want to look out there and know that from where we were in week zero, we are a much better football team," Yew said. "Hopefully, that transitions into a playoff game, no matter where it's at, no matter where our seed is. We're young and inexperienced. Were hoping to play a playoff game. That's all we want. Everything after that is a new season and we go from there."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd