It’s been four years since the Parkway Central Colts football team made it to the MSHSAA Class 5 State Championship in the 2013 season. Since then the Colts haven’t won a district championship, but they have enjoyed winning seasons on a consistent basis. A recurring problem was the lack of numbers and senior experience, but that’s going to change in 2017.
“We have a really good group of skill guys, and our line was young last year, and they’re developing,” Head coach Mark Goldenberg said. “We’re trying to get everybody healthy and ready to go.”
Central returns a host of seniors who will be three-year starters and carry a load of experience, but the x-factor is talent. They have plenty of it, but defenses will be particularly worried whenever No. 3 catches the ball.
Arthur Green caught 32 passes for ten touchdowns and 653 yards last season. During the offseason, he earned his first Division-I scholarship, and it built up to 11 until he announced his commitment to Arkansas State on June 25.
“He’s a very, very good athlete and he’s a better kid, which is the best part about Arthur,” Goldenberg said.”
If defenses give Green an ounce of space in the secondary or let him have the outside on a screen pass, then they’ll be sorry. Green stands at six-feet, two-inches and runs a 4.45 40-yard dash. On defense, he scored three touchdowns on two interceptions and a fumble recovery as well. One can say Green is the best receiver to play for Central since Brandon Sheperd back in 2011 when he led the Colts to the Class 5 semifinals and went on to play for Oklahoma State.
“Not to take anything away from the guys on Brandon’s team but he was head and shoulders above everybody,” Goldenberg said. “We’re going to spread it out and not be one-dimensional.”
In 2011 Sheperd caught 41 passes for 818 yards and 14 touchdowns and found the end zone a total of 21 times in an offense that ran the ball a vast majority of the time. That was six years ago, and the schemes have changed, but there will be a concerted effort to get Green the ball in space.
Along with Green in the wide receiver corps is DeAndre Campbell, a four-year starter, best known for his basketball abilities, but he’s proven his worth on the gridiron. Another target is Jayden Littlejohn and running back Jayden Mitchell who obtained over 200 yards last season out of the backfield.
“We want to make sure Arthur gets his touches, but DeAndre and Jayden all can make things happen,” Goldenberg said. “Jayden Mitchell in the backfield is very good as well.”
Mitchell has proven to be an adequate back over the last two seasons. He has 22 touchdowns in that two-year span and just shy of 1,600 yards. He’d have more touches if it weren't for his partner in crime Eddie Ross, who's just as good. Ross has also accumulated 22 touchdowns in the last two seasons and has over 1,600 rushing yards. The dynamic duo will look to continue what they’ve done and then some.
As loaded as they are, the Colts lose a handful of vital players that were long time starters who paved the way for the current seniors. Miles Sanders was the leader in the trenches on both sides of the ball last season. Darius Ramsey added his quickness and athleticism at wide receiver and cornerback, while Mitchell Goldenberg led the offense at quarterback. All of them were three-year starters.
“Those three will be missed a lot not only their on field skills, but their leadership because those three had been around since their freshman year. They’d been to the state championship game and knew what it took. We’re definitely missing them for those areas.”
Mitchell Goldenberg, a son of Coach Goldenberg, had his senior season was cut short at about the worst time during the playoffs last year with an injury. Patrick Dill, normally a cornerback, stepped in and guided the Colts for two games and as of this moment, he’ll be the starting quarterback with Devin Rice as backup.
“We had Pat and Devin compete, and Pat’s got the nod right now. He’s good at corner[back], so he’ll rotate in there as well,” Goldenberg said. “Devin is very smart and knowledgeable and can play quarterback if we need him.”
The offensive line returns the majority of their starters with Corey Freesbersyer (5-10, 260 lbs), DeAnte’ Byrd (5-6, 240 lbs), and Gerald Lenoir (6-1, 200 lbs).
Defensively the Colts look sharp as they return Lenoir and Cory Rice at defensive end with Israel Olorunda and Cory’s twin brother, Devin at linebacker. Olorunda led the team in tackles with 128, and Devin Rice followed with 111. Except for Ramsey, everyone in the secondary is all back.
Goldenberg has utilized several of the incoming seniors for three years, and some of them have been involved since their freshman season in 2014. This is the season of the acid test
“We don’t like to give any year away, but these guys have been around for along time. Dre started as a freshman. Art, Jayden Mitchell, Devin and Cory Rice started as a sophomores. They know what we want to do, but it’s just a matter of if can they take that next step and be the leaders and the guys that hold other people accountable and get us there.”
Another element Goldenberg pointed out that could help his team’s success was the basketball team’s state run to the Class 4 final four this past season. Led by Campbell, Green, Lenoir and the Rice brothers.
“To be quite honest they had a great year in basketball and got to the final four which is a huge accomplishment. We’re hoping that rubs off in some of that know how to win and know what it takes can carry over to football.”
Goldenberg and the rest of the entire team are utterly sick of Parkway North, and they get to square off for the second year in a row in Week 1, but they’ll be hosting this time. The Colts lost 21-9 and then met up again at North for the district championship, which proved to be a worse occasion as the Vikings soundly defeated Central 37-7. This season things could be different, but Goldenberg is acutely aware of how good the Vikings can be.
“It’s a big rival anyway, so we don’t like to lose to them ever and then to lose to them to start and finish your season does keep you motivated, keep you grounded. They’re going to be very good again. We’ll have our hands full.”
Another key game for Central will be in Week 4 against their relatively new rivals, Ladue, who beat the Colts 43-21 last year and are the reigning Suburban Central champions.
“We want to continue to get better, and we’re going to find out how good we are right away,” Goldenberg said. “To win a conference championship, you’re going to have to beat a Ladue, and to win a district championship you’re going to beat a Parkway North.”
The Colts lost three games last year, and they were against the schools mentioned above that both made it the Class 4 semifinals. That’s the destination Central is eyeing.
“[That’s] where we want to go to consider it a good season. In order to do that we have to raise our game and we’ll see where we are when we play those teams,” Goldenberg said. “Not to say the other teams on our schedule won’t be good, but those two have done it, and that’s where we want to be.”