Sinclair leads Centreville to second title

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 25, 2008

Centreville — The Centreville Tigers played 15 games to win their second straight MPSA Class AA State Championship this year.

Zack Sinclair only played in 12 of those games.

Still, the junior running back recorded 2,031 yards and 158 points on 275 carries, which is why The Natchez Democrat chose him as the 2008 All-Metro Player of the Year.

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“It’s an honor, but I wish I would have played those three games,” Sinclair said. “I probably would’ve set a record. I’m not saying 3,000 yards, but I probably could’ve gotten close.”

Considering the teams Sinclair missed out on were the ones the Tigers easily handled — he said he forced himself to play through the pain of a bruised back and a high ankle sprain against the tough teams — Sinclair could be right.

Assistant coach Brian Stutzman knows this, and he wishes he could have seen more.

“It’s impressive, and it’s scary to think if he had actually played 15 games, what he could’ve done,” Stutzman said. “Lots of people don’t even realize we sat him those three games.”

Sinclair wasn’t too happy about sitting out, either, although he said it was nice to have a break.

He said he thrives on being given the ball.

“It puts me under a lot of pressure, but I do good under pressure,” he said. “And it’s pretty boring on the sidelines.”

Stutzman said the Tigers were lucky to be able to play 15 games.

With most of the starting offensive line out for a good portion of the postseason, Centreville could have really struggled. But the backup offensive line got the Tigers to the state title game against Kirk Academy, where all but starter Justin Henry returned to action to block for Sinclair.

He rushed for 264 yards on 36 carries with two touchdowns in the 28-10 win.

“I yelled at them some,” Sinclair said of firing up his offensive line. “But my offensive line always gripes at me because I never give them any credit. I’m giving it to them now.”

That offensive line allowed the Tigers to rush for 316 yards and four scores in the championship game.

Sinclair said it was a great feeling being able to play in back-to-back title games.

“It was more intense last year because we’d never been to one,” he said. “It’s routine now, and next year we’re expecting to be back there again.”

Sinclair said he has not yet heard of any interest from colleges, but he said he would like to play after he graduates. That will take him getting in the weight room, which he said is a bit tough because he can be lazy.

“It’s still kind of early,” Stutzman said. “He’s small for a running back, but he could play at the next level. I just don’t know at what level. But it’s up to him — if he really commits himself and decides he wants to get into the weight room, he can do that.”

Sinclair is a junior this season, which means he has a lot more games to play.

Stutzman said he expects the same production next season, and Sinclair said he expects the same result — a state championship.

“It’s going to be tough, because we’re losing 13 seniors,” Sinclair said. “But hopefully we’ll still get that three-peat.”