Center Line High senior running back Jakarris Vereen looks to avoid a tackle during an Aug. 25 game against Madison Heights Madison. The Panthers went 4-0 in Macomb Area Conference Bronze Division play to win their first outright division title since 1968.

Center Line High senior running back Jakarris Vereen looks to avoid a tackle during an Aug. 25 game against Madison Heights Madison. The Panthers went 4-0 in Macomb Area Conference Bronze Division play to win their first outright division title since 1968.

Photo by Sean Work


Center Line High football wins first outright division title since 1968

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Warren Weekly | Published October 19, 2018

CENTER LINE — The phrase “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” most definitely applies to this year’s Center Line High football team.

The Panthers opened the season with a 60-6 loss Aug. 25 to Madison Heights Madison.

That could have sent the team spiraling downward. Instead, the Panthers went the other way.

At press time, Center Line went 5-2 following that opening-week loss, including a 4-0 mark in the Macomb Area Conference Bronze Division. That unblemished run through the league gave the Panthers their first outright division championship since 1968.

The team clinched the MAC Bronze crown in style with a 30-0 win over Madison Heights Lamphere in Week 7.

Center Line coach Ben Torres, who is in his fourth year leading the program, made it clear to his players that they should be proud of what they accomplished.

“History has shown that this has been something that has been very hard to come by around here,” Torres said. “Considering (the Lamphere game) was also our homecoming, it was time to celebrate.

“We knew we were going to have a strong group of seniors coming back who were going to be our core. The majority of those seniors have been playing with us (for three seasons), so they knew what to expect, and they knew that our expectations were high this year.”

The Panthers had an average margin of victory of 21.7 points per game in MAC Bronze play. Center Line allowed just 10.8 points per contest in the division.

“(Our success) was a combination of everything offensively,” Torres said. “We have a very good offensive unit this year with talent at multiple positions. We also have some really good players on our defensive line that can get after you, so that helps.”

Like Torres said, seniors have led the way. Quarterback Nick Hastings, running backs D’Iante Taylor and Dominic Hughes, and offensive linemen George Talley III, Davon Ramsey, Logan Bushor and Jermond Harshaw all played a major part in Center Line’s success, Torres said.

Junior wide receivers Jaylan Johnson and Jayden Davis also contributed with strong play, the coach added.

Since last season, the Panthers are 10-7. That gives the team its best two-year stretch since going 17-4 from 2001 to 2002.

Torres hopes the success is sustainable.

“For us to be able to continue to compete and win, players need to understand that we need to be consistent not just on the field, but more importantly, in the classrooms and hallways.” Torres said.

“We want to make sure that our players are doing everything possible to set good examples for their peers,” he continued. “It’s our goal to develop the student-athlete into an educational leader in the building and community.”

Center Line needed a win Oct. 19 over Marysville High to secure a guaranteed playoff spot.