- Center Yellowjackets
- Class 4, District 7
- 2022 results: 11-1
By Max Goodwin
Center reached the state quarterfinals last season with a talented high-scoring team. But against Smithville in the state quarterfinals, Center was shut out, losing 20-0. It was the first loss after 11 straight wins, beating every team on the schedule by 30 points or more.
Quarterback Joseph Vick, wide receiver Armand Russell, and defensive lineman Dirac Tsafack were team leaders who graduated last year. Junior Jacorey Love was the team’s leading rusher. He transferred to Liberty North during the summer. Center is a new team this year, including at head coach.
Coach: Rob Powell-Deppe was an assistant coach at Northeast High School last season. Bryan DeLong retired in the offseason after 14 years as head coach at Center.
Powell-Deppe played offensive line at the University of South Alabama, graduating in 2010. At Northeast, he coached baseball, basketball, and football. He will focus primarily on the offense. Steffon Brown will be a returning associate head coach from last season and be one of the coaches focusing on the defense.
Powell-Deppe’s clear strength is his ability to relate to the kids. It wasn’t that long ago he was in a similar position. He went to Whitney Young High School on the west side of Chicago. He didn’t think he had much chance to play beyond high school.
“I’m a city kid. I grew up in Chicago Public Schools,” Powell-Deppe said. “So as a teacher and a coach, Center is just an excellent opportunity for me. I’m coaching the kind of kids I want to be coaching, kids whose upbringing resembles mine. I have an understanding of what they’re going through, try to help them get to something better and use football as a tool for that.”
One play helped earn Powell-Deppe a path to college football. As a high school senior, in one of the biggest games he played in, he was the long snapper on a punt late in the fourth quarter . After snapping the ball, Powell-Deppe hustled down the field and watched as one of the top players in the state, Juice Williams, muffed the punt. Powell-Deppe jumped on the ball, setting up an important possession for his team.
“It was such a big game against a big name guy, big team, big rivalry in the city,” Powell-Deppe said. “Everything came together in that one moment.”
The next practice, Powell-Deppe had his first college recruiting letters from college coaches waiting for him.
Players to watch: Defensive back Montrell Moore (junior), running back Reggie Davis (senior), running back AJ Caldwell (senior).
Junior Montrell Moore intercepted a pass in the third quarter against St. Joe’s Lafayette on August 25 and ran it back 60 yards for a touchdown to give Center the lead. On a second-half possession, he had a 64-yard run and a 20-yard run to set Center up for a touchdown.
“He made some huge plays,” Powell-Deppe said.
Reggie Davis established a powerful run game on offense. He has played mostly on defense as a linebacker but has transformed his physique this offseason to switch sides of the ball, giving Center a power running back.
“He’s a big kid that used to play on the line, but he worked hard over the summer to get himself in shape. He’s still working. But he’s a heck of a linebacker and becoming a running back,” Powell-Deppe said.
AJ Caldwell is the quick outside runner who has also shown the ability to make some big plays.
2023 Outlook: Center will acclimate a new group of kids to varsity football. But as usual, there is some talent on the roster and kids willing to show up and work hard. It’s difficult to tell what the season will look like, but with so many new players and a first-year coach, don’t expect Center to match the success of last year.
“We got quite a few seniors that have never played football before,” said Powell-Deppe. “And those kids that have played before are having their first varsity action.”
Still, the Yellowjackets seem to play best when underestimated and always seem to put together a solid season. Don’t be shocked if they end the season as a tough team to knock out of the playoffs. But there are a lot of games left to grow for Center.
First two games: Center won its first game of the season at home against Lafayette (St. Joseph), a winless team last season. The Yellowjackets then played at Lincoln College Prep. Last season, Center easily handled Lincoln, but Lincoln controlled the game this year, winning 27-2.
Tonight, Center faces Oak Grove, a team that has already matched as many wins as they had all of last season.
Live streams of Center football games can be found on Hive TV
Center looks like it has some defensive playmakers and the ability to grind teams down with the run game.
Date – Opp. (2022 record) – result/time
- Aug. 25 Lafayette (St. Jo.) (0-10) W 20-7
- Sept. 1 at Lincoln College Prep (9-2) L 2-27
- Sept. 8 Oak Grove (2-9) 7 p.m.
- Sept. 15 Christ Prep. Academy 7 p.m.
- Sept. 22. Warrensburg (4-6) 7 p.m.
- Sept. 29. Harrisonville (4-6) – 7 p.m.
- Oct. 6 at Odessa (8-3) 7 p.m.
- Oct. 13 Pleasant Hill (11-2) 7 p.m.
- Oct. 21 at Clinton (2-9) 7 p.m.
- Oct. 27 Class 4 State Tournament