It was the coldest night of the Centralia Panthers 2017 football season.
Playing beneath a sky blacker than a viper’s heart, the Centralia Panthers closed out their 2017 football season with a 24-0 loss to the Palmyra Panthers.
Centralia did not go down easily.
Clayton Simkins’ arm had grown stronger and more accurate since Centralia’s 35-0 loss to Palmyra in late September.
Trey Owens’ steps faster, his cuts sharper.
Bradley Kaiser’s contribution on offense and defense broader.
Kaiden Davenport every bit as solid, but his tackles more numerous
And Nick Wheaton’s hands surer, his passing routes sharper and his ability to get open nearly unstoppable.
But it was not enough to knock Palmyra out of the district playoffs.
“I thought Coach Newsted had a great game plan,” said Palmyra Head Coach Kevin Miles. “They came here believing in what they had to do to win.”
He complimented Centralia’s passing game and said the increased frequency and accuracy was not totally unexpected. “We thought h
e might, and knew we had to be ready for him.”
Centralia’s offense took 62 passing yards, compared to Palmyra’s 22.
“Our passing game went well,” Newsted said, “We thought they might give us some things and we were ready to take advantage of them. Simkins had some good runs, some good passes, some good reads.”
Centralia’s passing advantage did not carry over in rushing, where Palmyra rushed for 204 yards to Centralia’s 133. Palmyra finished the game with 226 total yards to Centralia’s 195. Conversely, Centralia had 13 first downs to Palmyra’s six.
Miles acknowledged the increased potency in Centralia’s defense, which held them to seven points in the first half. “They kind of threw us off their game a little bit,” he said.
“We put Bradley Kaiser at D-end and take away their fullback,” Newsted said. “It worked on their outside plays, but them moved inside away from Bradley.”
Caden Vanskike led Centralia’s defense in tackles with seven, four solo and three assists; Kaiser pulled down six, three and three; Jared Holiman made six assisted tackles and Davenport had five, four solos and one assisted.
Centralia threatened to score several times during the game. “Centralia came here to win, but we just had some big plays that allowed us some success,” Miles said.
“They played a heck of a lot better,” Newsted said of Centralia’s effort. “We held them seven-zero in the first. We had three good drives, but just couldn’t capitalize on them.”
Friday, October 27, Palmyra was the stronger faster team, Newsted said. “They were a better football team tonight but we were the better character team. Our boys fought their backsides off tonight. Tonight, Palmyra had more talent, but we have tough kids. I feel sorry for them tonight. I wish they could have had more success. It is not always about wins and losses. It is also about how hard you want to fight for something and tonight the fought their hearts out.”
One example of that, Newsted said was the yards they gained though Simkins and Owens working together to misdirect the Palmyra offense. “Trey ran one way
and Simkins sent the ball the other,” he said.
“I’m really proud of my seniors,” Newsted said. “They’ve had a great year. They were 100 percent motivated, 100 percent fun. They did what they were supposed to do, they fought and they fought and they fought. They worked and worked and worked. They’re great kids.”