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Centi a Hillman for all seasons

Senior waiting for his chance to lead the basketball team after devastating football injury
By: Dave Krizman Journal Sports Columnist
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Darren Centi, Placer High’s superb multi-talented athlete, is a man for all seasons. This past fall he was a standout receiver and defensive back for the Hillmen. This winter he will be the point guard and team leader on the basketball court, and in the spring he will run track. However, Centi is on a little vacation from sports right now, not by choice of course. A broken collar bone in the first half of the Woodland playoff game has sidelined him. “I was running a 10-yard out and as I was being tackled,” Centi said. “My shoulder was driven into the ground. I knew immediately something was wrong because I couldn’t lift my arm.” In the first quarter of that game, Centi put on an exhibition of talent rarely seen in a football game. In just over nine minutes of play, he scored two touchdowns and had two interceptions. Like so many other athletes who have never been hurt, he described his feelings at halftime as “surreal.” “I couldn’t believe it would happen to me,” he said. “I was in shock.” Transitioning from football to basketball has not come easily for Centi. He wonders if he could have made a difference in Placer’s second round loss to Oakdale. “I wanted to be out there helping them,” Centi said. “I think I could have made a difference. We lost that game by inches.” Sitting on the bench last night as his Hillmen lost 71-67 in the Foundation Game against Roseville, Centi could only hope that he will be back on the court within the next several weeks. “I see the doctor Tuesday (yesterday) and hopefully I will be ahead of schedule for recovery. At first they said I would be out 5-6 weeks, so maybe I will be ready to play within the next several weeks,” he said. While he enjoys both football and basketball, he feels basketball is his favorite. He will be one of only three seniors, along with Josh Turney and Koal Swisley, on this year’s squad. “We’re really young, but we keep progressing every time we go out on the court,” Centi said Last season as a junior, Centi electrified Hillmen fans and the PVL with his lightening quickness at point guard. His attacking style and speed are not commonly seen in the foothills. This quickness was one of the key reasons coach Mark Lee went to a fast paced offense last year, and Placer fans can expect more of the same for this upcoming season. Hoping his recovery time is ahead of schedule, Centi should be on the court around the second or third week of December. That should give him time to get back into basketball shape before the Kendall Arnett Tournament begins after Christmas. Succeeding on the athletic stage is only one part of Darren Centi. In the classroom and on campus he has also excelled. Sarah Maddox, Centi’s Government and Economics teacher, had this to say about him: “…an exemplary student in my Government and Econ. Class…He leads by example for all students athletically and academically. I admire his integrity and his determination.” Jonathan Adams, Placer’s activities director, addressed Centi’s unique success. “Darren is well-liked by his peers,” Adams said. “He’s a stellar athlete who earned his Academic Letter as a junior, one of only two presented to scholar-athletes at Placer last year.” Dave Krizman’s column runs Wednesdays in the Journal. Comment online at www.auburnjournal.com.