2016 Central Gwinnett Black Knights Football Preview

Central Gwinnett's Jallah Zeze (88) makes a first down run before a tackle by Dacula's Jaylon Jones (21) during the second half of last year's game at Central Gwinnett High School in Lawrenceville. (Photo: Kyle Hess)

Offense

Skill position stars have emerged with regularity in Todd Wofford’s tenure as head coach, but big, experienced offensive lines have been scarce.

That isn’t the case this year, though. The Black Knights are experienced along the line with Tim Wilkins, Traquan Anderson, Jakob Lindblad and Brandon Joseph in the upper classes along with promising sophomore Tyrell Earl.

“What sets it all up is having a veteran offensive line,” Wofford said. “This is the biggest line we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

The next skill position players in line are talented, the coach said, just not as experienced. They also have to replace huge amounts of production from the loss of graduating players like Daily Post offensive player of the year Major Bellamy (79 catches, 1,315 yards, 16 touchdowns), Erron Price (60 catches, 864 yards, 8 TDs) and Trey Vallery (712 rushing yards, 7 TDs).

“That was probably 90 percent of our offense last year,” Wofford said of that trio.

Josh Samuel and Jarius Jones are the leaders at running back, while the huge void at receiver will be filled by a group of players that includes Jallah Zeze (pictured), Tyrone Goude, Derrick Lawrence and Quenton Meheux, among others.

Shiloh transfer Jarren Williams, a Kentucky commitment, is the new quarterback.

“(Williams) is still learning a lot, but his potential, the sky’s the limit,” Wofford said. “He’s still got to learn the system, learn how we coach, what we expect. But he’s a great kid, a smart kid, very coachable. He makes it very easy.”

Defense

Eight starters graduated off last year’s defense, which had been very strong the past few seasons. A new group of players will try to match that high level of play for Central, which struggled defensively early in Wofford’s tenure.

“That’s probably our biggest turnaround since I’ve been here, the defensive side of the ball,” Wofford said. “The last two years we’ve been solid to pretty good on defense and for the most part, we’ve been sound. Early on here, we gave up a lot of big plays. But we’ve become fundamentally sound to go with the athletes we have.”

The secondary has high level talent with Loganville transfer Donte Burton (North Carolina commitment), Jones, Elliot Cummings, Hunter Sims and Tyrel Brown. Dacula transfer Malik Carrasco shored up the linebacker position, where he will play alongside Paul Brewer and Joe Gracia.

Tim Wilkins, Ivan Sledge and Tyrell Earl are among the top players on the defensive front.

Coaching boost

Central’s coaching staff underwent a major makeover in the offseason, but the head coach is excited about it.

Daniel Inman (offensive line), Bill Boroff (defensive coordinator), Tyler Woolridge (defensive backs), Brandon Harton (running backs), Jason King (defensive line) and Kermit Robinson (linebackers) are among the new additions, while longtime assistant Mike Yocca has moved from running backs coach to quarterbacks coach.

“It’s been good this offseason to have that many coaches, more guys with more eyes on them and these guys are great,” Wofford said. “On paper, it’s the most experienced coaching staff that I’ve been a part of. … Coach Boroff has been coaching for 30-plus years and that’s something I haven’t had since I’ve been here, that veteran coach who has been through a lot of things and coached at a high level.”

Misc.

Discovery’s opening pulled a good number of freshmen who otherwise would have been at Central, leaving the Black Knights with just 75 players in grades 9 to 12. That is a little low, but it isn’t too unusual. “We’ve never had more than 100 kids in the program since I’ve been here,” Wofford said. … Roswell will offer Central a very good test early in the season. “It will get us ready for region by playing one of the best teams in the country,” Wofford said. “They pretty much have every position covered with some of the top players in the state. We feel like if we can compete with them, we’ll be OK.”

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