By A.J. Crispemail@example.com
Centennial High School is in its third year and will graduate its first class of seniors in a few months. For both Centennial and Burleson, it has been a struggle in some sporting arenas in these first few years since Centennial’s inception three years ago, but Burleson ISD Athletic Director Phil Anderson said he believes things are in place for all teams at both schools to perform at a high level.
“It’s been an adjustment period,” Anderson said. “When they split schools, you split talent. BHS has been hurting numbers-wise, but they’re learning to adjust. Burleson football was affected more than anything.
“And then, of course, over at Centennial, they have numbers but again it’s a new situation where you have to develop new leaders. That’s been one of the main things we wanted to get done was to develop a team and develop winning attitudes. It’s been a long process.”
This year marked the first season in which Centennial competed at the 4A level after playing against 3A schools last season.
While the Spartans and Elks missed the playoffs in football, both for different reasons, Anderson said he expects both teams to compete for a playoff berth next year. Meanwhile, the Burleson and Centennial volleyball teams both made the playoffs.
“Centennial was very, very competitive in football and really came close, right down to the wire, for the playoffs,” Anderson said. “They had some good talent and very good coaching but they just didn’t quite get over the hump. It was so close on their situation.
“Burleson just didn’t have the numbers. They would play as hard as they could and then they just didn’t have the depth or back-ups and they just wore down. That’s going to get better. The numbers and talent are going to get better. The coaching is there. Coaching at both schools is very solid and they’re doing a great job with what they have, and they’ll continue to do that.”
Perhaps the biggest reason why Anderson said he thinks things will turn around for both schools in all sports is this year marked the first in which each high school had incoming freshmen from Kerr and Hughes Middle Schools.
“When schools grow, they’ll be more competitive,” he said. “This was the first year where there was a true freshman class from both schools. You’ve got your true feeder system working now where the high school coaches can go to the junior high and work through the coaches down there. That’s the main thing. Once that kicked in now your athletic program starts developing like it should.
Kerr Middle School students will move on to Centennial High School and Hughes Middle School students will graduate up to Burleson High School.
“Both schools are very talented all the way through,” Anderson said. “Next year you’ll see big improvement in both schools in all sports. That’s helped and it will help tremendously.”
Centennial made the playoffs in boys baseball, basketball and girls softball and volleyball over the past calendar year, but aside from the volleyball team this season, the other teams made playoff runs at the 3A level last season. Anderson said the competition level at 4A has made things a little more difficult for Centennial, but he said he expects the teams to fight for the playoffs.
The Burleson Lady Elks won District 8-4A and went deep in the playoffs this season in volleyball, and the Lady Elks have also clinched a playoff berth in basketball this season.
The examples put forth by the Burleson girls athletics is what Anderson said he expects will be the standard for each sport at both schools — playoffs.
“I want our coaches to be as competitive as can be and I expect every team to make the playoffs,” Anderson said. “We have the talent to do that. We don’t expect anything else. We’re here to win and be very competitive and always be in the hunt. That’s my message to every coach who coaches at BHS or CHS and I fully believe both schools can do that in every sport.”
Despite the struggles of some programs, and taking into account the early stages of Centennial’s existence, Anderson said he is pleased with the progress of both high schools and the district as a whole, overall.
“With the process of what we’ve been going through, with the numbers and talent, I’m very pleased with all coaches in what they’ve been doing and working as hard as they can to get back to the level it was four or five years ago before the split,” Anderson said. “I have great confidence in them to bring it back up to a level where all teams are looking for playoff spot. I expect both girls softball teams to be in the playoffs this year. They’re both very talented and good programs and have good coaches. For baseball, I expect both to make it again. The coaches are working really hard.
“Overall in the district, I’m pleased. I’m patient and I know they’ve been patient while some sports have been lacking in numbers, but that will turn around and the numbers will get back up starting next year. Everything’s in place and I think BISD is going to be a force to be reckoned with.”