44 Blitz Preview 2021: Central Bears

After a pair successful seasons, it's a whole new ball game at Central High School this year, as the Bears have a new bench boss of their Den.

Posted: Aug 9, 2021 5:50 PM
Updated: Aug 10, 2021 12:53 PM

After a pair successful seasons, it's a whole new ball game at Central High School this year, as the Bears have a new bench boss of their Den.
"Last year, we started building a relationship as the season went along," says Central junior quarterback Blake Herdes. "I feel, right now, we already have."

"We've all been a family," says Central senior linebacker Isaiah Cooper, "do everything as a family, and I look at every player on this team as a brother."

"We take care of each other," says Central head coach Andrew Zirkelbach. "That's really what we're building our program on. We're people first. We're assistants second, but we're people first."

The winds have change blown through the Central program, from the field surface, to the roster, to even the head coach. Former longtime assistant Andrew Zirkelbach has taken over for Sean Coultis, who exited the program after just his second season at the helm. After two years at Reitz, Zirkelbach returns looking to provide consistency.

"They've not had the continuity at the head coaching position for the last few years.," says Zirkelbach "Me, being the fourth head coach since the seniors were incoming eighth graders. We just take care of each other. We try to build some stability. The coaches need to be very patient with the players. This is a process, not a quick fix or a quick turn."

"He has a positive vibe only," says Cooper. "Like nothing comes out of his mouth that's negative. He doesn't put down any of his players. It's just positive and just getting us ready for the season."

Zirkelbach takes over a program that is coming a pair of strong seasons, culminating with last year's perfect regular season and a sectional crown. However, he'll need to work with several new pieces to the puzzle. Beginning offense, which retains few starters, besides junior starting quarterback Blake Herdes.

"Our offense is going to be centered around our quarterback play," says Zirkelbach. "We're looking to throw the ball, as well as establishing a physical rushing attack. We like to call it the best of both worlds. We've got four seniors on the offensive line. We've got some running backs that can run it up inside there. And we've got a couple who can bounce it outside with some speed. We've got a cupboard full of receivers that can run and catch. They just don't have a lot of experience on Friday night's yet. So, it;'s going to take a while for us to grow and develop into what want to be by the time the postseason rolls around."

"I think it will be good," says Herdes. "A lot different from last year obviously. We don't have the same type of weapons we have this year. I don't think we lost really anything. I think we just reloaded, rebuilt. And I think it will work really well."

"I like how he spreads everything out," says Cooper. "Everything's not jumbo to one player, because we have a lot of great athletes. So, I like how he spreads it out and shares the attention with everybody."

The Central defense is a much different story, with a major veteran presence from the senior linebackers Isaiah Cooper and Josh Boberg, a secondary that boasts three returning starters and a young, but hungry line.

"Our front seven is very stout," says Zirkelbach. "Many of those guys played last year in some capacity in some capacity on the team. Our Mike linebacker, Isaish Cooper, is our leading returning tackler. Also, Gavin Kelley will be another inside linebacker that played significant time on the defense last year. We really like our front four. We've got the Stewart brothers, Jace Krietemeyer , we've got Chris Yeadan. We've got Ed Reed playing corner and a couple other defensive backs, who are duking it out for playing time."

"I think our defense will be just as good as it was last year," says Cooper. "We have speed everywhere. We have size everywhere. And it's going to be great this year."

"They actually look really good," says Herdes. They caught me by surprise when we went offense versus defense. I can't wait to see them get out there week one.

But for all the newness on the team, it's the same old message that will guide the Bears in 2021.

"We've just got to stay together as a team," says Central senior offensive/defensive lineman Jace Krietemeyer. "Fourth quarter, we can't be coming down on each other, giving hate. We've got to be bringing each other up."

The Bears open the season at the Reitz Bowl, August 20th against Mater Dei.

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Temperatures were a heck of a lot more bearable earlier this afternoon - despite our northwesterly winds, temperatures peaked at 54° in Evansville earlier on and are expected to remain quite comfortable as we head into the evening hours. Expect temperatures ranging from 48° to 41° between 7 PM and 10 PM; though the added cloud cover over the coming hours will only allow temperatures to fall as low as 38° by early Wednesday morning. It's not all good news however, it looks as though some of us (especially those north of the Ohio River) could see periods of scattered rainfall throughout our Wednesday morning.
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