At the end of a long and winding road to northeast Missouri, the Centralia Panthers won their first
football game of the season in a decisive fashion. The Panthers’ “Wing T-ish” offense triumphed over the Highland Cougars’ single-back offense to the tune of 44-6.
It was also another stretch in the long and winding road of Centralia Head Coach Jim Newsted’s coaching career. After Newsted’s postgame words of advice, assistant coach Tyler Forsee interrupted the proceedings to say: “Guys, this cat’s been here since 1998, talk about bleeding black and white, this guy’s done it. Nineteen ninety-eight and this is the first win he’s got under his belt as head coach.”
With that Forsee tossed Newsted, surrounded by his players, the game ball.
That was the same ball Centralia carried across the goal line six times to shut out Highland for three out of four quarters.
The Panthers scored 20 points in the first quarter and 14 in the second, while pushing driving the Highland rushing game backwards and knocking down most of the Cougars’ passes.
Centralia scored 10 more in the third as Highland scored one touchdown on a pass. Neither team scored in the fourth.
Centralia and Highland were even in only one area, scoring passes. Centralia’s Clayton Simkins connected for one touchdown in the first. and Highland’s Camp Newton reciprocated in the fourth, tacking together a 50-yard pass and a 25-yard touchdown pass.
The rest of the game was Centralia’s ground and pound running and the Panthers’ meat grinder defense. “We had a good defensive showing, we made a few mistakes early, but we came back and I like that,” Centralia Head Coach Jim Newsted said. “We kept them to the short field.”
The Panther defense held Highland to a negative seven rushing yards. Highland made it up by gaining 191 passing yards.
Centralia offense gained 55 passing yards and 174 rushing yard for a total of 229 yards.
Kaiden Davenport scored scored three touchdowns. Trey Owens scored two. Davenport’s scored two, back to back, early in the first quarter, one off a Simpkins pass the other off a handoff. Owens rushed for his two touchdowns.
Tyler Dorman also rushed for a touchdown. Additionally, he kicked in eight points, including one field goal.
Gus Stidham led Centralia with eight total tackles. Trey Owens backed him up with six. Chris Hicks and Kaiden Davenport pulled down three Cougars each. Jared Holiman and AJ Tuggle, each pulled down three.
“I like the direction we’re going right now.” Newsted said. “Once we slowed down I thought we executed really well.”
That execution included the team’s outside game. “I thought we got the ball outside really well. My linebackers showed up and got up to speed.”
He said he liked Simkins passing progress as well. “We showed we can throw tonight… We didn’t throw much, but what we did we were successful with. I was really pleased with our kicking game and we kicked deep tonight. Tyler Dorman did a good job for us, including a field goal.”
Newsted said Highland helped the Panthers uncover a few weaknesses we have, but that’s good, because this way we have a week to fix them, instead of Clark County showing them to us.”
That he said, gives the Panthers goals to work on, “So we can beat a conference championship type of team next week… We have a few things to fix and one week to fix them.”
Friday, Sept. 25, the Panthers place the Clark County Indians, 7 p.m. at CHS’ Miller field.