LOUISVILLE — David Shald threw enough touchdown passes last year to be boastful. He threw enough interceptions not to be.
The up-and-down campaign, both for the Centaurus football team and for Shald himself, has left the senior ambitious, confident, humbled and ready to take another crack at moving the Warriors offense.
“Definitely,” Shald said. “A lot of the mental immaturities have gone away throughout the course of a year, so now it’s just a matter of a lot of commitment and a lot of practice.”
The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder threw for 13 touchdowns last season, but also was picked off 17 times. His performance was congruent with of that of the Warriors overall, a squad that rollercoastered to a 4-6 campaign.
The return of Shald, top rusher Tanner Martinelli and the return to health of dynamic running back J.J. Scott have Centaurus in high spirits at camp. As the Warriors prepare for their opener against Conifer (noon, Saturday, Warrior Stadium) practices have been crisp and efficient.
And it all starts with their senior QB.
“What I like is that he has eight, nine games of varsity experience,” ninth-year Warriors coach Chad Senseney said. “I think he’s definitely shown that in the way he commands the huddle and the decisions he’s making.”
Senseney lauded Shald’s knowledge of the offense, saying the quarterback is astute to the point that he can recite any player’s assignment on any play, including the linemen.
“Every time you hear David Shald’s name, you think work ethic,” said Martinelli, who rushed for 168 yards and three touchdowns in a game against Alameda last season. “He’s one of the biggest leaders I’ve ever known in my life. It’s been like that forever. Even when he wasn’t starting, he had the mindset of a leader.”
While the Warriors must replace some speed on the outside with top receivers Matu Giltner and Trevor Schrader graduated (Matt Wright and Brody Jaskul are candidates to inherit the roles), they also feel like they hit the free-agent jackpot in the return of Scott.
Scott suffered a broken femur in a mid-October game against D’Evelyn.
“It was pretty gnarly, but I’m 100 percent now,” Scott said. “It was tough at first, but after I coped with the injury, I decided it was all about me getting back to where I needed to be.”
Centaurus perhaps has been most widely known for its line play over the years, and this season could be more of the same with plenty returning up front. Included are seniors Bradley Lowry and Jesse Gritz and sophomore Michael Devries.
“We’re still working out the kinks, but I feel close to these guys,” Lowry said. “Last year, I felt somewhat close, but we didn’t feel like a family, didn’t have that connection.”
It helps the linemen, Lowry said, to have a quarterback like Shald running the show.
“Having a quarterback that is stronger than most of our lineman makes us want to get better,” Lowry said. “I mean, me and Big Mike (Devries) are probably the two strongest guys on the team, but David is a close second or third.”
While Shald relishes a chance to lift more weight than a lineman, that’s not his primary focus. The numbers that concern him involve how many wins it will take to win the 3A Northern League and how many points it will take to get a proud program back to the playoffs.
“I want to win that first-round game, something that hasn’t been done here in a long time,” Shald said. “As far as myself, I just want to progress well and be the best that I can be.”
The Warriors must replace six or seven spots on each side of the ball this season, but they feel comfortable with the players they have in place.
Leadership was thin at times last season, but that shouldn’t be the case this fall, if camp is any indication.
“It’s been very positive,” Senseney said. “One of the things that this team has over last year is just the sheer numbers in our senior class. Last year, we graduated 10 seniors, and now we have 18 strong out here and most of those guys are going to be major contributors.”
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