It wasn’t just the humidity that St. Louis routinely gives to her citizens every summer, though not every day. It wasn’t that his players were not focused every day. Parkway Central football coach Mark Goldenberg loves that he has a healthy amount of kids that are good athletes, but they play other sports, and those sports have coaches that need them just as much as he needs them for football. An athletic love triangle.
“Summer can be frustrating with kids doing other things,” Goldenberg said. “When you have talented kids there’s other people that want them whether it’s baseball or basketball. It’s fun to get started with the season and have just one focus.”
Now that he has everybody back and solely concentrating on football, he’s in the position where he wants to be in. With under two weeks to the opening kickoff against longtime rival, Parkway North, Central are primed for a big season, starting with the offensive line. What’s new?
Goldenberg, a Parkway Central alum and a linemen guru, takes pride in the offensive line’s effectiveness by routinely producing technically sound lines year after year.
“I think in football if you can run the ball and stop the run are gonna be successful at whatever level that you are at. Growing up as a line coach I think that’s incredibly important and I’m very blessed to have Ryan King as our offensive and defensive line coach. He does a great job with developing kids fundamentals.”
This season the line has the makings to be solid once again. Miles Sanders (6’3”, 280 lbs), Abe Sala (5’9”, 205), Jeremiah Robinson (6’2”, 230 lbs), Gerald Lenoir (6’1”, 200 lbs), and Corey Freebersyser (5’10”, 260 lbs) will be the five-man shield.
The Colts only have seven seniors on the roster, but all of whom are three-year starters and have contributed greatly to Central’s cause over the past two seasons.
“Miles is a kid that, even as a freshman, dressed for varsity, so we lean on him a lot. We got three kids between Miles, Darius (Ramsey), and Mitchell (Goldenberg) that all got to be along for the ride for that last state run. We lean on them for leadership. We have a very small senior class, but we’ve been fortunate to have some success and they’ve seen it at the highest level. We’d like to strive for those things, so we’re lucky to have them as resources.”
This will be the third season in a row which Central has had a short amount of seniors, but each season they’ve finished with a winning record. It should be the same old formula and easy to understand, right?
“It’s different every year,” Goldenberg said with a laugh. “It’s a headache every year and I’d like to have twice as many kids to choose from, but we just don’t.”
However, the juniors are here to help with 16 players ready for battle and most of them will be returning two-year starters.
“We have a lot of skill guys back and that junior class is a really, really good one. They’re very, very athletic.”
The Colts return eight starters on offense and seven on defense, including all of their main point producers in the skilled positions. Eddie Ross rushed for 824 yards and 11 touchdowns. Jayden Mitchell ended with 624 yards and 7 touchdowns. Both were 2nd Team All-Conference for the Suburban Central. Fullback, Cory Rice had 368 yards with two touchdowns, but averaged 8.6 yards per carry and his twin brother, Devin will be in the mix as well. All are juniors.
“We like to spread it around and we’re excited about that. We’re going to try to get both of the tailbacks on the field together more this year.”
Three-year starter Darius Ramsey, Arthur Green, and DeAndre Campbell all return as wide receivers. With all of those athletes at their disposal, the Colts plan to the get them touches in order to unlock defenses, which is something Central doesn’t usually do.
“We are fortunate and blessed this year to have a lot of really good skill guys so we hope that we can attack from different angles. When you have people like Darius, DeAndre, and Arthur, not to mention Jayden, who’s a really good running back and receiver, we’re going to try to get them the ball in space.”
The man who will be throwing them the pigskin is Mitchell Goldenberg, the coach's son. He is another three-year starter and coach Goldenberg aims to have the six-foot, three inch lefty to throw more passes than last season.
“That’s the plan. If you run the ball and stop the run you’re going to be successful and I do believe that, but I think it would be a waste of those guys talents. Mitchell is very smart, so he knows where to go with the ball. We’re going to try to spread it around and distribute the ball to everybody because we have some good guys out there.”
Defensively, Central will be just as strong with most of their offensive athletes playing as linebackers, cornerbacks, and safeties.
The main concern is to keep the defensive line as fresh as possible with the their limited depth.
“Miles is a horse and he’s going to have to play both and we’re going to try and rotate some other guys in other places, but our roster’s just not that big. It’ll be a rotation to try not to keep everybody out there all the time, but we’re limited.”
Central is the reigning Suburban Central conference champions, despite that, they’ve been a top program in the area for several years so naturally they’ll be tested by just about everybody they face.
“We usually get most people’s best games. They want to beat us and that’s a blessing and a curse.”
Big things are expected of Parkway Central, so much that they’re ranked No. 1 in the Gateway Sports Venue Suburban Central Conference preseason poll, not that they mind it too much.
“It’s a compliment and pressure is what makes diamonds out of coal. If we’re going to be good and do good things then we’re going to have to have pressure. Preseason polls don’t mean anything, we want to see the poll at the end of the season.”
This Colts team has a great chance to have their best season since 2013 when they made it to the Class 5 state championship. For the next two seasons they’ll be in Class 4 and things are looking very bright with a big and experienced junior class. Central will be tested right out of the gate with a week one visit to rivals, Parkway North, but that may be their toughest fixture for the regular season and could very well see them again in districts. This team will out-smart and outwork the majority of their opponents all season long. Undefeated is in the cards, but may be a bit of a stretch, however 8-1 is very reasonable.