I.E.: Hayden Gavett carrying the torch

Corona Centennial Hayden Gavett is putting up similar numbers to those of Michael Eubank last season. Courtesy of Joe Wheat

CORONA -- The question marks have been replaced by exclamation points.

Many wondered how the Corona Centennial football team would proceed this season without a Division 1-caliber quarterback running the offense.

They’re wondering no more.

Hayden Gavett has taken over where Michael Eubank (Arizona State) left off last season, and where Taylor Martinez (Nebraska) shined before that.

He has led the Huskies to a 4-1 start through the halfway point of the regular season, throwing for 870 yards and eight touchdowns, while being intercepted just twice. On the ground, he has kept the ball for 472 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 8.9 yards a carry.

“He’s a heckuva player,” Centennial coach Matt Logan said. “He’s a very smart kid, works hard and is a great athlete. To top it all off, he’s a good kid, so that makes it fun.”

Gavett’s offensive numbers are very similar, if not better than those put up by Eubank through five games last season, though Gavett has needed to play all 48 minutes in two more games than Eubank did.

Gavett’s coaches and teammates might be the only ones not surprised by his success as a first-year senior starter.

“I played with Hayden since I was little, so I’ve always known the player Hayden can be,” said running back Romello Goodman, who has teamed with Gavett to account for 85 percent of Centennial’s offense, despite sitting out approximately 3 1/2 quarters while holding big leads. “He has come out and shown he can be that type of player. It’s his time to shine.”

The biggest difference between Gavett and Eubank is their size. Gavett is listed at 5 feet 9, 175 pounds, Eubank was listed at 6-5, 220.

Gavett, the fastest player on the Huskies, according to Goodman, has better quickness, acceleration and top-end speed than Eubank and appears to have a stronger throwing arm.

“People look at him and think he’s not that good because he’s short, but he can play,” Goodman said. “He’s just as good as any other quarterback we’ve lined up against.”

Gavett will be up against a quarterback with similar skills Friday night when the Inland Empire's top-ranked team travels to No. 6 Corona Santiago for a Big VIII League game. Michael Darr, a junior and two-year starter, threw for 225 yards and three touchdowns Friday night and ran for 100 yards and two other scores in a 49-22 victory against then No. 6 Norco.