New players are stepping into key roles as Century tries to recapture last year's magic

Last year’s Century football team was perhaps the school’s best ever.

In 2012, led by Pacific Conference player of the year and all-state quarterback Sam Riddle, the Jaguars went a sterling 8-3, finished third in the league and won a Class 6A playoff HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Century senior quarterback Marcos Hernandez scrambles away from pressure during last Friday's non-league game against Mountain View.

But Riddle has since graduated and left to play college ball at North Dakota. The team also graduated the likes of fellow all-league first-teamers Sam Devedjian — who was the conference lineman of the year — Alex Sirois (lineman), Savon Sengsavahn (linebacker), Austin Thimjon (lineman), Josh Wise (defensive back), Xavier Mitchell (wide receiver) and Vance Hamilton (wide receiver).

Those departures left this year’s Jaguars with some sizeable holes to fill on both sides of the ball, and they have found the early going tough in a 0-2 start.

“Things are coming along OK. I’m not happy with where we’re at right now, but our kids, they’re doing everything they can, they’re trying their hardest,” coach Bill Smith said last Friday after a 24-21 loss to Mountain View.

“We as coaches need to figure out why we’re making so many mistakes.”

Century opened the season on Aug. 30 with a 35-6 loss to Beaverton. Last Friday, some late turnovers cost the squad a shot at coming back on the Cougars.

There was no shame in losing to either of those teams. The Beavers play in the powerhouse Metro League, while the Cougars won it all in Class 5A in 2011 and were state quarterfinalists last season.

“It hurts, because we’ve worked very, very, very hard, and we came up short tonight,” said Smith, the league coach of the year in 2012. “And we know we made lots of mistakes. If we just get rid of some of these mistakes, we know we’re going to be OK.”

Last Friday, Century lost several fumbles to the Cougars, including two on promising fourth-quarter drives after Mountain View took its 24-21 lead.

“We had fumbles, we had turnovers, we had penalties and missed alignments,” Smith said. “We have to correct that stuff.”

As Smith pointed out, he lost 10 starters on offense and nine on defense from the 2012 team, so the Jaguars are still figuring it out while working with plenty of new pieces.

One star who is back is the speedy and shifty Marcos Hernandez, who assumes quarterback duties for Riddle. Hernandez was a first team all-league defensive back last year but will be playing on offense only this season.

“Marcos and Daniel Hernandez will give you everything they have every play,” said Smith, also referring to Marcos’ twin brother, a slot back and outside linebacker.

“They are phenomenal. They are some of the toughest kids, they try so hard, and they’re great leaders.”

Other key players for this year’s team are Zack Allen (running back/free safey), Josh Sundquist (lineman), Daniel Ortega (lineman), Spenser Erickson (wide receiver/defensive back), Oscar Rojas (tailback) and Kevin Garcia (running back/linebacker). Smith also mentioned defensive linemen Wilson Nguyen and Josh Resvaloso.

“We have a lot of nice kids doing some good things,” Smith observed.

The Jaguars have the chance to get on a winning track tonight, when they take on city rival Hilhi at 7 p.m.

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