A week ago, Central Private and Silliman Institute played to a scoreless tie in a preseason football jamboree.
That experience left both teams with more questions than answers. Silliman coach T.J. Davis and Central Private coach Mike Longmire expect to get some answers when both teams open the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools regular season on Friday night.
“To be honest with you, we’re going into this game blind,” Longmire said. “We have an idea what expect because we’ve played Cenla Christian before. But from what I understand, they have some new players, so you don’t really know exactly what you’ll be getting.”
The Rebels travel to Pineville to take on Cenla Christian. Meanwhile, Clinton-based Silliman hosts sixth-ranked Brookhaven Academy. Both MAIS Class 2A games are set for 7 p.m.
“At this time of the year you definitely want a game that is a measuring stick,” Davis said. “You want to find out where you stand and what you need to work on.
“Under the circumstances, I can’t imagine a much better one than this one with Brookhaven. They’re a quality program we’ve played for the last several years. It’s been a few years since we beat them, so it’s a good test.”
CPS and Silliman face different challenges going into the 2012 season. Central Private was 1-9 last season and will field a team with approximately 20 players for the second straight year.
“The biggest issue for us is depth,” Longmire said. “We have seven or eight guys who will have to go both ways, and we only have a few guys who are capable of playing on the line.
“I was pleased to see how we did against Silliman in terms of playing against their line. They’re bigger than us, but we had guys who held their own. We need to get better at executing our blocking schemes and our offense.”
The Rebels will be led on offense by Ryan Bowman and Kyle Blackburn, who will split time at quarterback and running back. Rhett Sequin, a three-year starter, helps top the list of linemen.
Cenla has several key transfers from Louisiana High School Athletic Association schools. The list includes linemen Tevin Guillot (Menard) and Ramel Cumby, along with quarterback Caleb Valle (Grant).
The Brookhaven-Silliman contest will feature two of the MAIS’ top senior prospects. Gage Posy (6-4, 185) is the returning quarterback for Brookhaven, which has utilized a pass-oriented spread offense in past seasons. Silliman’s Cobb Kelly (6-2, 180) is the starting quarterback in a new spread attack. Kelly will also see duty at wide receiver, running back and defensive back.
A group of two-way linemen that includes Brady Brian (6-3, 278) and Michael Austin (5-11, 265) will also play major roles for the Wildcats, who are looking to improve last year’s 5-5 record. Davis’ Silliman squad has more than 30 players and is sophomore and junior-laden.
“Brookhaven graduated one receiver who wound up signing with a Major League Baseball team in the spring,” Davis said. “I know they had other guys in line to take over that role.
“A lot will depend on our line play. Can they give us the time to execute on offense? Will we be able to put pressure on Posey? We’ll find out.”