Centralia Fireside Guard

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SEASON OPENER A TOUGH ONE FOR CENTRALIA PANTHERS

Posted on Saturday, August 25, 2018 at 1:34 am

The full moon did not bring good luck for the Centralia Panthers.

At the end of a 44-minute drive the Centralia Panthers lost 38-0 to the Monroe

Centralia's Nick Wheaton homes in on a pass against Monroe City.

Centralia’s Nick Wheaton homes in on a pass against Monroe City.

City Panthers at Monroe City’s Lankford Stadium.

While there were moments when Centralia seemed to rock Monroe City back on their heels, Centralia was never able to capitalize.

Luke Hunter busting a tackle has he runs down field for Centralia's longest rush of the game.

Luke Hunter busting a tackle has he runs down field for Centralia’s longest rush of the game.

Penalties, fumbles, personal fouls and just bad football luck always seemed to intercede.

“Centralia’s a tough blue-collar team,” Monroe City Head Coach David Kirby told the Fireside Guard afterward. “We expected them to try and dominate the line of scrimmage and that was what they tried to do. They did what I expected. We had watched a lot of film on them and game-planned really well.”

He admitted superior speed was a factor in their win. “We were able to catch them out of position and capitalizes on some things,” Kirby said. “Overloads on one side or another, heavy in a formation, our offensive line blocked really well and our defense put us in some good spots.”

He said they had planned specifically for certain Centralia players. “Obviously, the Bodine kid is a really good player. They have a lot of really good players that play hard from whistle to whistle. We were just able to capitalize on some opportunities and I take nothing away from Centralia.”

The first quarter set a tough pace for Centralia and when it was over, they were behind 14-0.

“We were nervous and gun shy in the first quarter,” Centralia Head Coach Jim Newsted said. ‘They were a better ball club tonight. We made a lot of mental mistakes… Defense held its own for awhile and then we’d kick ourselves in the butt with penalties… They’ve got some big boys and we’ve got some little guys.”

In the second, Centralia turned up the tackling, led by Jared Holiman and Elijah Crutchfield, who led the team with seven total tackles each. They were backed up by Grafton Littrell with six and Nick Wheaton with four. Gus Stidham and Guy Moran also recovered one fumble each.

But Monroe City turned up the touchdowns, scoring 16 more points, making the score 30-0 at halftime.

One observer said this year’s edition of the Panthers is a work in progress. “We attempted our run game off the get go, and there was little success. “In order to run against a larger team like that you definitely need to have bigger backs, somebody that could put the ball and boots on the ground. The passing game in the third put Monroe City back on their heels, you could tell they were surprised, but we weren’t able to balance with some ground game… You’ve got to keep the other team guessing.  One person I was impressed with was Luke Hunter He had some good runs and good looks.”

In the second half, Centralia defense dug in and held Monroe City to eight points in the third and none in the fourth.

Unfortunately for Centralia, Monroe City’s defense rose to the challenge every time Centralia threatened to score and kept them off the board.

Centralia’s offensive effort was there though.

Centralia quarterback John Durant led them to 23 passing yards and 134 rushing yards for a total of 157 against Monroe City. In the air, he passed for 13 yards, completing five passes out of 15 attempts. Crutchfield and Wheaton led Centralia in receptions for 10 and six yards respectively. Wheaton led Centralia on the ground, rushing for 58 yards, followed by Durant with 31 and Hunter with 19.

When the game was over, after the two teams met in mid-field and prayed together, Newsted had a few words with his players.

For the complete article, please see next week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.