Walker Sheppard, like assuredly all of his Central teammates, is tired of losing.
Over the past two seasons since Sheppard become a fulltime varsity player, the Bears have walked off the field winners just once in 20 chances.
"We definitely want to win a lot more games this year," Sheppard said. "I think we'll do a whole lot better. We definitely want to make a statement. If we beat teams people say we can't, I think that makes a great statement.
"We go up to people and go to away games and they think it's all fun and games when Central comes to town. It was very tough, but this year we think we can be a whole lot better."
Sheppard, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior, figures to be a vital piece if the Bears do manage to make some headway this year.
"He's a tall, good-looking kid," Central head coach Mike Einspahr said. "He's improved his pass catching quite a bit the past few years. He's going to be expected to be one of the go-to guys in the passing game.
"He blocks very well. He's a physical guy, a bigger kid. All (offseason) camp long he was able to be physical on the blocking side, which helps. But when he's in a situation where he's in traffic and he's able to take some hits; he runs routes well, all that makes him a good receiver."
"As a captain of the team, I definitely think I'm going to lead the team and make sure everybody stays together," Sheppard said. "We have to take advantage of every opportunity we get. We need to make sure we do the right things and always strive forward."
Last year Sheppard hauled in 10 passes for 136 yards, finding the end zone once. He is by any measure Central's top returning receiver.
Though he's now exclusively a wideout, a season ago he was still learning the position even as he became a starter.
As a sophomore he was a defensive back, totaling two tackles. Yet when he realized the Bears needed help on the other side of the ball, he convinced the coaches to give him a shot.
Now he has a year under his belt, something that should help him increase his level of play this time around.
"I have a lot more experience going into this year," Sheppard said. "I've attended a lot of camps and combines. I've worked as a receiver, worked with a lot of coaches. I'm going into this season with more confidence and experience."
He'd like to at least double his number of catches, getting into the 20-30 range, and tack on 300 more receiving yards to his previous year's total.
Also, he wouldn't mind finding the end zone a few more times, something that would certainly help support his positive outlook on the upcoming campaign.
"We're very confident in our team this year," Sheppard said. "We feel the depth and the offensive line have improved.
"We definitely think we're improving a lot. We've had much better practices than last year. Everyone seems to want to get better and we're working as a team."
According to Einspahr, Sheppard will receive plenty of opportunities to make an impact.
"He needs to catch every ball thrown to him," said Einspahr, adding that Sheppard's size should allow him to maximize yards after catch. "We hope to get him the ball 7-8 times a game."
A productive showing over the next few months could additionally work in Sheppard's favor in terms of attracting colleges.
"I definitely want to play college football," Sheppard said. "A few colleges have shown interest in me and when the season comes I'm looking forward to see if I can get a few offers.
"I think that's one of my highest goals in life. That's one of my dreams I want to achieve. I really want to play college football more than anything."
By the numbers: Walker Sheppard
YR REP YDS YPC TD LG
2012 10 136 13.6 1 41*
* Denotes touchdown
2013 Central Bears Roster
No. Name Pos. Yr Hgt Wgt
1 Cody Brooks WR Jr 6-1 165
2 Andre Reynolds WR Jr 5-9 140
4 Anthony Williams DB Jr 5-8 160
5 Emanuel Scott DB So 5-9 145
6 Devante Smith DB Fr 5-10 145
7 Lucas DiaGiacomo RB So 5-7 150
8 Robbie Bradley RB Sr 5-9 180
9 Walker Sheppard WR Sr 6-2 180
10 Justin Grosos DB Sr 5-9 145
12 Taylor Bower QB So 5-10 190
15 Cole Teater QB Sr 6-1 210
16 John Templar LB Jr 5-10 180
18 Andrew Saavedra LB Sr 5-11 185
21 Austin Utter DB Sr 5-9 160
22 Mike Rossetti DB Sr 5-9 160
30 Ala Abdaldean RB Sr 5-10 210
39 Anthony Elliot DL Jr 6-2 180
40 Chris Hernandez LB Jr 5-11 205
45 Martin Rivera DL Jr 6-2 180
50 Ricky Bolduc DL Sr 5-9 190
51 Tyler Eoute OL Sr 5-10 165
54 Austin Dusza OL Jr 5-10 210
55 Shane Murphy OL Sr 6-2 205
58 Cody Carlson LB Sr 5-8 180
60 Michael Helfand DL Jr 5-11 245
68 Dennis Webb OL Jr 6-1 310
73 Tyler Webb OL Jr 6-1 320
74 Jeremy Luckett DL Sr 6-1 225
76 Angelo Adele OL Jr 5-8 290
77 Tanner Hamilton OL Jr 6-3 290
80 Garrett Herbert DL Jr 6-2 175
Head coach: Mike Einspahr (4th year)
Assistant coaches: Bob Burke, Josh Burkhart, Jeff D'Angelo, Justin Early, Chris Hernandez, Robert Paxia
2013 Central Bears Schedule
Date Opponent Site Time
8-30 Hudson Home 7:30 p.m.
9-6 The Villages Home 7:30 p.m.
9-13 Poinciana Away 7 p.m.
9-20 Nature Coast* Away 7:30 p.m.
9-27 South Sumter* Home 7:30 p.m.
10-4 Weeki Wachee* Home 7:30 p.m.
10-11 Springstead Away 7:30 p.m.
10-18 Zephyrhills* (Homecoming) Home 7:30 p.m.
10-25 Pasco* Away 7:30 p.m.
11-1 Hernando* Away 7:30 p.m.
* Denotes Class 5A, District 6 game