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2017 Football: Under New Tutelage, Tigers Trying to Turn Tables

Centralia offensive and defensive lineman engage during lineman drills during the first day of practice in a field behind Tiger Stadium on Wednesday.

2017 Football: Under New Tutelage, Tigers Trying to Turn Tables

First-year Centralia football head coach Jeremy Thibault didn’t make it out of his cursory interview for the job before he was asked about his plans for onside kicks. Thibault, a Centralia grad who made a name for himself on the coaching circuit during his tenure at Toledo, has developed a reputation as a proponent of a non-traditional kicking game.

Centralia’s Broc Selstrom

Specifically, Thibault has shown a tendency to onside kick early and often, often times regardless of the score. He says it’s simply a matter of crunching the numbers to see how the strategy pays dividends in both field position and possession, but that has never stopped a fan in the stands from grumbling when the strategy doesn’t work out. Thibault says the only way he’d consider abandoning the onside tactic is if he has a kicker who can consistently place the ball in the corner of the end zone.

If anyone is going to make the Tigers’ new coach change his mind, it’s going to be senior kicker Ryan Jensen, who is currently nursing an injury.

“We’re going to do it (onside) until he comes back healthy and can put it in the end zone,” explained Thibault. “And if he can’t, we’ll onside kick it almost every time, again.”

While Thibault is still stuck in his ways with the kicking game, there has been change afoot in nearly every other facet of the game at Tiger preseason camp. Centralia boasted about 134 players during spring practice but that number has dwindled down to about 85 as the first game approaches. The attrition doesn’t bother Thibault as he sees no need to keep players around if they aren’t fully bought into the new program in Tiger Town.

“We’ve got a lot of new kids out who would have helped them last year but didn’t turn out for whatever reason … It’s a new day here. Either get with the program and get in shape, or kick rocks,” said Thibault. “We have a lot of competition going on, which is a nice thing. We have serviceable kids who will step in and play well.“

Centralia’s Jose Pineda

Those fresh faces will be forced into action right from the start as Centralia returns just one starter on offense and two starters on defense. Jose Pineda, who plays running back and defensive back, is the only returning two-way starter for the Tigers. He will be flanked on the defensive side of the ball by linebacker Kolby Baird. Baird will also take over quarterbacking duties for the Tigers this year as well as punting.

“He can bomb it,” said Thibault of his punter.

The Tigers will start their season off with a formidable nonleague schedule versus 2A and 3A contenders from Longview, Kelso and Sequim. Thibault said those first four weeks of the season should be a good test for his team so long as they manage to emerge relatively injury free.

“We’re gonna kind of see where we’re at after that,” said Thibault.

Centralia Tigers

Evergreen 2A Conference

Coach: Jeremy Thibault, 1st

2016: 3-6 (missed playoffs)

Returning Starters: Defense — Jose Pineda (DB), Kolby Baird (P); Offense – Jose Pineda (RB)

8/31 at R.A. Long

9/8 Mark Morris

9/15 at Sequim

9/22 Kelso

9/29 at Black HIlls

10/6 at Tumwater

10/13 Rochester

10/20 at W.F. West

10/27 Aberdeen

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