This is the 16th in a series of stories on high school football teams in the Bi-City. Coming Monday: Glenwood.
School: Central High
Nickname: Red Devils
2013 record: 6-4
Key players: Traveon Samuel, Zion Webb, John Broussard, Kenneth Thomas, Jorrin Ingersoll, Quan Weaver
Key game: Every region game
Outlook: It's a new day at Central, though the past wasn't so bad either.
A team that had already experienced plenty of success over the years, most recently with a trip to the state semifinals in 2011, has a new coach, Jamey DuBose, who has a championship pedigree.
The Red Devils are hoping that success translates to the field going forward.
There's a lot to like about Central this season simply from a personnel perspective. Despite going 6-4 and missing the playoffs a year ago, it was a talented team that simply didn't sort itself out early enough in the season.
The offense is filled with experience, from running back Kenneth Thomas and do-it-all athlete Traveon Samuel, who is committed to play at Louisville, to wide receivers Quan Weaver and Dakota Pittman. Ethan Baber, who began last season under center, will be a wide receiver and tight end this season, and they're all playing behind an offensive line featuring four seniors and a junior.
Sophomore quarterback Zion Webb is the youngest player on the offense, but he started half of last season's games and showed more than enough potential to lead this team.
The offense will be particularly intriguing because of its change to a more up-tempo style under DuBose. The weapons fit the fast-paced approach and could prove very difficult to stop for opposing defenses if the players can progress in the new offense quickly.
Defensively, the team is a little younger with two sophomores and five juniors on the unit. Its talent, though, is undeniably. Cornerback John Broussard has already been ranked among the top recruits in the nation for the 2016 class.
DuBose made it a priority to add bodies to the roster over the summer, as well, stating his belief in being able to put fresh players in regularly. He wants to be at least two deep at every position, and to do that he needed a larger roster.
He got his wish, with more than 100 players currently on the list.
The biggest challenge for the Red Devils this season will be outside their control. The schedule is more difficult than any other in the Bi-City -- from season-opening non-region games against Stockbridge (Ga.) and Harris County (Ga.) to its other non-region games against Opelika and American Heritage (Fla.) There is likely no tougher region in the state, either, featuring teams like Auburn, Prattville, Smiths Station and Enterprise.
Central faces a particularly difficult stretch when it hits the road for three straight weeks against Prattville, Opelika and Smiths Station.
It's impossible to select one game that stands out above the others because every game on its region schedule will be important. Any four out of Auburn, Prattville, Smiths Station, Enterprise and Central could win the region -- or miss the playoffs altogether.
But the expectations are high in Phenix City, and anything less than being in contention for a playoff run in November will be a disappointment.
David Mitchell, Follow David on Twitter@leprepsports and on Facebook at facebook.com/ledgerenquirersports