Primed for another stellar season, Central Catholic plugs holes

Photo Credit: TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Cameron Scarlett of Central Catholic breaks into the clear for one of his five touchdowns in last years 83-49 state semifinals win against Tigard.Central Catholic High was loaded to the gunwales with talent last season. With a fabulous offense and strong defense, the Rams rolled to a 14-0 record and the Oregon School Activities Association Class 6A football championship.

Central Catholic has holes to fill this season, but coach Steve Pyne says the Rams will still be a very talented group.

“We’re veteran in a lot of right places — offensive line, defensive line, linebacker and running back,” Pyne says. “We’re a little inexperienced at quarterback and receiver, but we still like the kids we have, for sure.”

The offense will revolve around senior tailback Cameron Scarlett. The 6-1, 205-pounder’s explosive speed and big-play ability was one of the biggest reasons for the Rams winning their first football state title.

“He could have a big season,” Pyne says, of Scarlett’s potential for 2014.

Opponents know all about him, but that probably won’t be enough to contain him.

“People are going to be targeting him,” Pyne says, “and trying to stop him, because he’s our top returning production guy. The good thing is we have enough other weapons to where I don’t think people are going to be able to load up on him. And we’re going to line him up in different spots and make people defend the field.”

The Rams will be bolstered on both offense and defense this season by Brady Breeze, who transferred to Central Catholic from South Medford High. Breeze has committed to play safety for the University of Oregon. Pyne says Breeze also will play receiver and running back for the Rams.

Having never coached him in a game, Pyne says he is not completely sure just how good Breeze will be.

“It remains to be seen,” Pyne says. “I know he’s committed to Oregon, so he’s got some skill. But he’s still got to learn our system and earn his playing time here. He’s a good kid, and he’s working hard. He adds depth, for sure. We’ll use him at safety, and we’ll use him at wide receiver and a little at running back.”

Photo Credit: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: CHASE ALLGOOD - Ronnie Rust (right) brings down Century High quarterback Marcos Hernandez in a 2013 playoff game. Rust is part of a strong returning corps of linebackers for defending Class 6A champion Central Catholic.The biggest question mark for Central Catholic is at quarterback, after the Rams graduated Aidan Wilder, now at Portland State. Pyne says the QB job is up for grabs between senior Sean Dack and junior Carson Spitznagel.

“They both looked good this summer in 7-on-7s,” Pyne says. “The competition will really start in training camp. They’re different. Shawn is really good at our run game and throws the ball pretty well, but that’s not his strong suit. Carson throws the ball really well, and the running piece of it isn’t his strong suit. But they’re both pretty good at their weaknesses.

“It could be a two-headed monster, or it could be that one of them just excels ahead of the other and we go with one guy. They know they’re competing to see who the guy is going to be.”

The Rams have a tough schedule this season. After an Aug. 28 jamboree at Lake Oswego, they open on Friday, Sept. 5, against Jesuit, which will be looking to avenge its 38-28 loss in the state championship game last season. That game kicks off at 7 p.m. at Hillsboro High.

Then Central Catholic will travel to Bellflower, Calif., to play St. John Bosco, one of the nation’s elite prep teams, on Sept. 12.

“Our schedule is going to be tougher than it was last year, especially our preseason schedule,” Pyne says. “And our league (the Mt. Hood Conference) has improved, so that’s going to be tougher.”

Scarlett’s 47-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter put Central Catholic on top of Jesuit 35-28 in the 2013 title game.

“Jesuit is going to be good this year,” Pyne says. “They return a fair amount of guys. They’ve got a great running back, a great quarterback and they’re always good up front and play physical.

“St. John Bosco was the California state champion last year. In one poll, they were the national champions. They’re ranked in the top 10 or 11 in every national poll this year. We’ve got our work cut out for us to compete against those guys.”

Despite winning the state championship last year, Pyne says he is confident that his players will show up hungry this season.

“We said to our guys when we started our conditioning camp that last year was over,” Pyne says. “Coaches aren’t wearing our rings, we aren’t wearing anything that says state championship on it. They have to earn the right to get back there this year. They know it’s going to be a tougher road.

“But because those guys have been in that situation, especially our seniors and some of our juniors, they know what it takes, the work and focus and attention to detail it takes to get there.”

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