Centralia beats Macon, 21-7
They did it. They did it with speed, with guile, with power and with a touch of flair.
At the end of four quarters of football domination that some would say was closer than the 21-7 score indicated, Centralia beat the Macon Tigers, finishing the season 9-0 and Clarence Cannon Conference Champions.
It was the finale’ of Jim Newsted’s third season as head coach of the Centralia Panthers football team and he gave all credit to his players.
“It was their attitude and their ability to play football,” he said when asked what made the difference during four-quarters of ground and pound Panther power football. “Our 17 seniors provided leadership, they’ve been leading the team the whole year, great kids, great character, some of the better kids in school. I can’t say enough about how much leadership they’ve shown, not just for the team, but for us coaches, this community, this school, they are a great group and their hard work has paid off.”
That hard work manifested itself in three of the game’s four touchdowns.
Centralia scored in the first, second and fourth quarters.
At 5:05 in the first Beau Gordon ran 18 yards up the middle to make it 6-0 Centralia.
At 6:16 in the second, John Durant ran 20 yards around the east side to make it 12-0, then he handed it off to Grafton Littrell for a two-point conversion to make it 14-0.
And with 5:10 left in the game, Littrell slanted though the east side of Macon’s defense to make it 20-0 until
Luke Hunter kicked the extra point to make it 21-0.
Macon came back two minutes later when their quick and elusive freshman backup quarterback MyKel Linear connected with Timmy Watts to put Macon on the board in the last four minutes of the 21-7 game.
The Panthers’ offense took 397 yards compared to Macon’s 216.
Durant, Centralia’s quarterback led the team in rushing with 162 yards. Littrell backed him up with 72, followed by Luke Hunter with 43 and Gordon with 41.
Centralia’s passing with sparse. Jake Freidel had one reception for 10 yards, Max Hunter, one for seven and Littrell, one for three. All Centralia’s touchdowns were off the rush.
Wesley Redington led the Centralia defense with six solo tackles, four assisted and one tackle for loss. Trevor Bodine had four solos, one assisted and two tackles for loss. Littrell had for solo tackles; Freidel, three solos and two assisted and Gordon, two solos and four assisted.
“They had a good team,” Bodine said of Macon. When asked what he and the line were on the lookout for, he said Macon’s nose guard was a person of interest. “Controlling him was key. But once we got him done, we had the game. We had a great execution of all our plays, I want to thank the rest of the line, I couldn’t have done my part without them doing theirs and they did great. Hats off to Luke Hunter, Jake Freidel and Beau Gordon for running the ball.”
Durant came out on top of Macon’s defense, but Macon’s offense earned some respect.
“That quarterback was pretty darned fast,” Newsted said afterward. “He’s a freshman, he’s got a good future coming. He made it hard for us to do some things. We worked really hard on our pass defense this week, so we had a lot more people on coverage, than we did rushing the quarterback… AJ Hombs and Max Hunter continue to have great games at corner. I don’t know how many pass break-ups they had tonight, but the had a bunch.”
“He was really shifty,” Bodine said of Linear. “We knew he was going to be able to plant his toes and move, we knew he was going to be quick and shifty… Overall they had good teamwork and knew what they were doing. They’ve got a bright future ahead of them.”
“He’s athletic, so he got of the pocket, keeps plays alive and he keeps his eyes downfield,” Macon Head Coach Pete Claas
“We know how well they run the ball and they’ve just got so many weapons on offense,” he said when asked how he prepared the Tigers for Centralia. “We wanted to get lined up right first, because they do so many things formationally. I thought we handled that part, but man they run hard. They’ve got a lot of good backs… We knew their speed was going to give us trouble and it did.” Still, he liked his what his defense showed in the second half. “It was 11 guys doing their job. And it showed.”
Newsted said Centralia’s defense may have found the proper balance
between pass coverage and quarterback quashing.
“We worked our tails off on pass defense this week. We had five or six guys on coverage a lot and four or five guys in the box rushing the quarterback… We tried to beat them with coverage and not with pressure… We prevented most of the big plays.”
It was not all Xs, Os and smiley faces though.
During the third quarter, Centralia spent a lot of time in mid-field gridlock.
Claas said his players were just doing their jobs.
“It wasn’t really any changing, it was just our guys making plays,” he said. “We didn’t do anything schematically from the first to the second half, just our guys making plays.”
He did say after two quarters of pounding his defense may have gotten better at reading Centralia’s offense. “Maybe, I just think they dug down deep and wanted it more.
“We had some sparks here and there,” he said of Macon’s offense, “But we just couldn’t consistently put together the big plays. We’d have good play, then a silly play… We had some guys banged up, some worn out.”
Of the seniors’ first conference championship, Bodine said, “We love it, we want more… I want to see us go to state.”
Newsted said they finished the regular season as number-one seed in the district playoffs and will play at home Friday, November 1. Their likely opponent is Missouri Military Academy.
The Hallsville Indians are the number-2 seed. Their likely first-round opponent is Father Tolton.