Central-Phenix City vs. Thompson 7A State Championship

Central's Joseph McKay (23) carries in the first half. Central vs Thompson on Wednesday, Dec. 5 in Auburn, Ala.

Expectations are high for the Central Red Devils as they prepare to defend their Class 7A state title. While the primary goal is to be the best in Alabama, the Red Devils have plenty of attention at the national level, too.

Central comes in as the No. 13 team in USA Today’s Super 25 preseason high school football rankings. The Red Devils finished the 2018 season unranked in the website’s Final 25 despite going undefeated.

In the rankings’ Southeast region, the Red Devils are fourth, the highest ranked among teams in Alabama.                         

The USA Today rankings mark another instance of Central being ranked on a national level. The team came in at No. 38 in the country in High School Football America’s Top 100 preseason rankings.

Central’s inclusion in the 2019 preseason rankings comes after a historic season that brought some hard-earned hardware.

After going 10-0 in the regular season for the first time since 1988, the Red Devils shut out their first two playoff opponents before pulling off a come-from-behind victory against Lee-Montgomery. The win over the Generals propelled the Red Devils to the state championship game, where they pummeled Thompson 52-7 to give the team its first state championship since 1993.

“For three years, this team got to the semifinals and we just left empty every year, hurting,” Central head coach Jamey DuBose said after winning the championship. “We wanted to finish something. One thing in life we found out as we studied is that so many things we start as people we never finish. What we wanted to teach them as adults growing up and everything else is if you start something, finish it.

“These guys finished it tonight.”​

Central graduated 42 seniors from its championship team, including LSU quarterback signee Peter Parrish, Arkansas running back signee A’Montae Spivey and Clemson safety signee Ray Thornton. The Red Devils do return several key contributors from last year such as four-star wide receiver E.J. Williams and four-star offensive tackle Javion Cohen, three-star quarterback Tucker Melton and three-star safety Mike Harris.

The Red Devils will put their high rankings to the test immediately in 2019. Central opens the season with perennial Class 7A powerhouse Hoover on Aug. 23 in Montgomery. On Aug. 31, the Red Devils travel to Atlanta to take on Georgia’s Cedar Grove, who went 14-1 last season.     

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