Centennial High School in Compton has rebuilt their football program with the hope to cultivate athletes and scholars.
“I know from the academic stand point with [principal] Dr. Harris really turning around the perception of Centennial high school academically,” said Centennial Apaches football head coach Adam Leonard. “We’re trying to do it athletically.”
Leonard just finished his second season as head coach of the Apaches. Last season, the football team struggled to get enough players to compete. This season touted 43 players on the roster.
Along with having a competitive edge on the field, Leonard wants to make sure his players are academically competent. Being a math teacher at Centennial, he noticed how many students are in need of assistance in the subject.
“I’m definitely instilling study hall,” Leonard said. “We’re in the process of getting through different programs, trying to get access to tutors to come here.”
Among the team are players who are excelling in their studies. Senior running back Charles Windom has a 3.5 GPA and is taking honors pre-calculus, junior defensive end Frank Caballero has a 4.0 and is taking AP English and U.S. History. A goal the Leonard has is for the team to have a 3.0 average.
“I feel like the coaches and the players have bought in on the new wave or new program,” Windom said.
Competing in his first football game is one of Caballero’s fondest memories.
“That’s always a memorable moment for me,” he said. “My first time starting, I really liked that time.”
A major lesson Leonard tells the team is to focus on their attitude, actions and effort. Another piece of wisdom he tells the team is to attack the problem not the person when it comes to conflict.
Prior to his coaching career, Leonard was a stand-out linebacker at the university of Hawai’I. He earned all-conference honors for three consecutive years. As a senior, he came in second on the team with 81 tackles. Leonard also has experience in the NFL and CFL.
“being able to play professionally, that opens kid’s ears,” he said. “But to really get them to buy in is just showing up everyday ready to work.”