To say that Toledo Central Catholic’s football program has been good over the past 15 years would be a massive understatement. Not only does Toledo Central Catholic have one of the best football programs in the state, but arguably in the entire Midwest.
The Irish have won state championships in 2005, 2012, 2014, and were state runner-ups in 2015. In fact, over the past ten years, Central Catholic boasts a 116-20 record against their opponents.
Even this past year in 2019, they made a deep playoff run and made it to the semi-finals. They, unfortunately, fell to Cincinnati La Salle in the semi-state game but ended the season with a 13-1 record with a rather youthful team.
Central Catholic’s success began with the hire of their current head coach Greg Dempsey back in 2000. Dempsey was an assistant coach at Start high school, also located in Toledo, before taking over the head coaching job at Central Catholic for former head coach Tom Santoro.
Coach Dempsey has led the Irish to 204 victories, 18 playoff appearances, 10 conference titles, and 3 state championships during his coaching tenure. Coach Dempsey and the Irish are looking to make another deep playoff run for 2020, with hopes of becoming state champions for the 4th time in the past 20 years.
If there is one thing that Toledo Central Catholic knew how to do last season, it was put points on the board. In 2019, the Irish averaged over 35 points per game, terrorizing opposing defenses game after game. They will be looking to do the same thing this year under senior quarterback Bishop Vargas (5’11” 165-pounds). Vargas had a terrific junior year, managing to snag All-Northwest Ohio Division II Second Team honors, and will have plenty of offensive weapons to utilize.
Even though Central Catholic lost star running back Jonzell Norrils to play for Akron at the collegiate level, senior running back Prentiss Reasonover (5’11” 190-pounds) should fill the starting role nicely. After having a stellar junior year, Reasonover already holds an offer from Akron, and will likely receive more offers if he continues to perform well.
On the outside, Central Catholic lost wide receivers Jamie Johnson and Randy Williams Jr. to graduation. Fortunately, star senior player Tae’Shaun Johnson (5’11” 185-pounds) should step up in a big way at the receiver position. Johnson was a Division II Ohio Third Team Wide Receiver, placed on the All-Northwest All-District First Team for Ohio, and is already committed to Bowling Green.
Vargas will also have a big target in senior J’Shun Rushing (6’3” 175-pounds), who can serve as a viable threat in the red zone. Josh Lee (6’5 200-pounds) and Sam Lee (6’5 205-pounds) are 2 more weapons in the passing game that will give opponents trouble.
Finally, the offensive line will be anchored by senior Christopher Sennett (6’5” 310-pounds), who earned Division II Honorable Mention Offensive Lineman, and All-Northwest All-District First team honors. Mar’Tieon Adams (6’4 260-pounds) and Ramiro Perez (6’1 270-pounds) are two-way starters inside for the Irish. Jaylen Gregory (6’1 326-pounds) will be another player up front that will help the offensive attack.
The Irish have the key players and talent to run a well-balanced offense to light up scoreboards in 2020.
Along with an all-star offense, Toledo Central Catholic had a terrifying defense last year. In 2019, the Irish held opposing offenses to a meager 11.2 points per game. Even though they lost defensive end Carter Fouty to Air Force, as well as linebackers Ja’Kobe Crowell and Kendall Marshall, plenty of experienced defensive players remain on the roster.
The heart of Central Catholic’s defense will be its linebacker core, led by senior outside linebacker Jalen Riven (6’3” 215-pounds). Riven is already committed to Toledo for the following year, and with his big frame will prove to be difficult to block for opposing lineman and tight ends. Alongside Riven are senior linebackers Giovanni DeSantis (5’11” 215-pounds) and Lamar Adkins (5’9” 165-pounds), who should be able to complement Riven nicely. Christopher Jackson (6’2 205-pounds) is a talented prospect in the 2022 recruiting class that has Power 5 offers.
In the secondary, Central added a huge transfer 3-star safety from River Rouge High School in senior Leroy Watson Jr. (5’10” 160-pounds). Watson held offers from Youngstown State, Miami (OH), Western Michigan, and is currently committed to play football at Army. Watson will look to keep the skies clear alongside senior safety Da’Shun Tanner (5’11” 175-pounds), who will also be playing football at the collegiate level for Youngstown St.
Darius McBride (5’10 160-pounds), Shy’Twan James (6’3 175-pounds), and Greg Bond (5’10 175-pounds) all add a lot of depth in the Irish secondary.
Although the defensive line may be a little raw with the loss of Fouty, there is a lot of upside for the group. Marlon Barber (6’1 245-pounds), Perez, and Adams will control the inside on defense.
If this defense can put all the pieces together throughout the season, look for this unit to keep opposing offenses out of the endzone numerous times.
With all of the talent returning to this team, behind experienced head coach Greg Dempsey, there is no reason to believe that they shouldn’t make another deep playoff run. Due to a shortened season, the Irish will not play 2 of their previous non-conference scheduled games against Benedictine and Olentangy Orange. They will get to play their conference (TRAC) rivals; Lima Senior, St. Francis, St. John’s, Whitmer, Findlay, and Clay. If they build up some good momentum in the regular season, they should find themselves back in contention for the state title.