After a season-opening loss at home to Waskom, Center won four straight games to enter the bye week at 4-1 on the season after finishing just 2-7 in 2014.

The Roughriders reeled off consecutive victories over Buna, Garrison and Jasper on the road before beating Hardin-Jefferson last week at home.

One of the key changes for the program was the addition of new head coach Barry Bowman. He arrived at Center in February and quickly established his blueprint for success, a blueprint that allowed Bowman to win three state championships at Daingerfield at the end of last decade before moving on to Paris.

“Having state championships under my belt probably gives me a little more leverage with the kids because they know what I’ve done has worked before, but this is a new place with different kids so none of that really matters,” Bowman said. “It’s all about right now and building something here, but we do draw on our past experiences because we know it works. We don’t talk about it much at all with the team, but we’re doing the same things here in Center that made us successful at Daingerfield and Paris.”

Taking over a new program is never easy, but Bowman says it mostly comes down to building relationship and trust with the players.

“We’re lucky to have a good coaching staff with a good mixture of youth and experience and I think that helps get our message across to the kids. It is all about building that trust and letting the players know you’re doing this for them to be successful in football and in life. If they trust you and feel you’ve got their best interest at heart it makes it a lot easier to coach them hard when something bad happens,” Bowman explained. “Sure, we have to sell the guys on the schemes and the system, but we talk much more about how we do things than what we do.”

Center is off this week, but Bowman doesn’t plan on changing the routine for his football team too much.

“Well, we didn’t practice on Monday and made the kids go to mandatory tutorials. We stress that all the time, but with the bye coming in on a grading cycle we thought we could give the kids off Monday and let them really focus on getting right in the classroom,” he said. “We’ll practice Tuesday and Wednesday, work out during the athletic period on Thursday then have Friday off, so not much change other than not having practice Monday and no game Friday. We’re focusing on the fundamentals and getting healed up for the rest of the season.”

Bowman said the defense was the most important part of the 4-1 start.

“Our defense has played well enough to be 5-0, but we’re getting better and more consistent on offense,” he explained. “At the previous places I’ve been at we’ve always stressed defense. We’re going to be good on defense, in special teams and hopefully our offense keeps improving to keep us in games. I think we’re on the right track, but I don’t even know how good this team can be or will be. We know we’ve done some good things, but we still have a long way to go because we’re in a tough district and there will be no easy games moving forward.”