There’s an old Korean saying, “When two Tigers fight, one dies.”
The Clarence Cannon Conference version of that is “When two Panthers play, one loses.”
Tonight, August 30 at Centralia’s Miller Field, the Centralia and Monroe City Panthers opened the 2019 football season and Centralia
The win came with a touch of adversity after the Panthers fell back before Monroe City’s shotgun offense which saw Kennan Batsell score their season’s first touchdown at 4:56 in the first.
They were unable to complete the two-point conversion though after AJ Hombs stuffed Monroe City’s running back.
The first quarter ended 6-0 Monroe City.
Centralia came back at the top of the second quarter courtesy of a Jake Freidel twofer. First he ran 10 yards zigzagging his way to the western corner of the end-zone where he dived toward the goal line, pulling an Monroe City tackle with him. Extending his arms he planted the ball a bare inch inside the end zone to tie the game.
But he was not done. For his next act, he successfully kicked the first of his seven extra points to put Centralia up 7-6.
The second quarter ended with Centralia up 14-6; and the third, 28-6 Centralia.
“Early on we were getting off the ball better than they were,” Monroe City Head Coach David Kirby said afterward when asked what enabled his team to get an early jump on Centralia.
“We were able to pick up some blocks, as the game went on, the obviously made some good adjustments.We weren’t able to sustain some blocks, encountered some tough situations, gave them some short fields and they were able to capitalize on that, on the play.”
Pressure was part of the problem for Monroe City, Kirby said. “They were able to put a lot of pressure on our interior offensive line and they played well and started slanting really well… They were able to get some good angles on us. Definitely a good learning experience for us.”
He said he was surprised by the level of play Grafton Littrell and Trevor Bodine brought to the field for Centralia. “Those kids are really good. They’re good football players. That’s the thing, Coach Newsted has them coached up really well and they play hard. They played a complete game tonight. Hats off to them, they did a good job.”
Kirby lauded the play of two of his own Antwon Battle and Aaron Plumb. “Early on we were able to get some good angles, play a little bit more aggressive with their fronts.”
He said as the game wore on though, Centralia wore them down.
Centralia built momentum against us, we just couldn’t match their intensity and they were able to capitalize, and get out of here tonight with a really good win for themselves.”
From Newsted’s perspective it came down to picking themselves up after adversity, in this case Monroe City’s ground and pound march down field for a first quarter touchdown, and a pair of plays “Criss-Cross,” and “Buck Sweep.”
“They just ground them down,” said one observer who appreciated Newsted’s strategy and situation. “Numbers were a factor, but maybe not in the way in the way you think. Look at that big defensive end out there,” he said pointing at the Monroe City line. “He’s a good athlete, he an play both sides of the line all night long. That’s not the problem. The problem is in practice, he’s probably practicing against some sophomore who is not going to ever see varsity action this season. Newsstand’s starters, on the other hand. They’re practicing against other varsity players who are good enough to get playing time this season. That’s where the numbers make a difference.”
And here are some game numbers for the statistic-minded sports fans.
Centralia’s John Durant was the winning quarterback who threw for 79 yards and rushed for 58 as he captained Centralia’s offense in gaining 323 yards, 244 on the ground.
Freidel led the team in rushing yards with 75, followed by Luke Hunter with 74.
Littler led the team at the goal posts with two touchdowns. Ferrule, Hunter and Durant had one each.
Centralia’s defense held Monroe City to 175 yards, 39 the air and 175 on the ground.
Homes led them with eight total tackles, solo and assisted, followed by Hunter and Freidel with seven each and Hunter Phillips and Littrell with five each. Hunter also scored two sacks.
For more, see next week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.