Panther football wins fifth in a row, shuts out Brookfield 34-0
The first moments of the game looked great for Centralia.
Playing beneath a marmalade sunset, the Panther began with quarterback John Durant faking a run then throwing it from the 36 hardline downfield to the Jake Friedel’s waiting hands on the Brookfield 33 yard line.
From there the moved to run mode with Luke Hunter swinging around the end, followed by Grafton Littrell up the middle. Hunter took the ball again at 9:58 faking east then going up the middle to the nine-yard-line. Then they stalled, Brookfield sacked Durant and two plays later Friedel missed a field goal.
The rest of the first saw Centralia’s defense mashing Brookfield early and often while Centrala’s offense would make it to the red, now green zone, then stall.
The red zone became the green zone early in the second quarter.
Eleven minutes and change into the second the first play of Centralia’s first possession, Friedel caught another Durant pass and turned it into a 26-yard first down.
Then Hunter took a the handoff, zigged, zagged and threaded his way through the Brookfield defense for another first down. That was not enough for Durant and Hunter, so Durant tossed him a pass for Centralia’s third consecutive first down.
The drive did not stop. At the 8:39 mark, Durant hit Friedel with another pass from the 26 to the east side of the field. Frilled stiff-armed his way to the center and ran up the middle for the game’s first touchdown, making it 6-0 Centralia.
With lighting flashing 50 miles to the north, and less than two minutes left in the half, Trevor Bodine and Wesley Redington whipsawed Brookfield quarterback Carson Beckman to the ground,
forcing the Bulldogs to give up the ball on downs.
Seconds later, Durant reached out to Friedel with another 26-yard touchdown pass, capped off hand off to Hunter, who handed it off to Littrell, who dove over the goal line for a two-point conversion to make it 14-0.
From there things just kept getting better.
Two minutes and change later, after Trevor Bodine made a high arching kick, then with some help from Littrell, ran downfield and blasted the kick off returner so hard the ball popped out of his hand and landed in front of Alex Arends who snatched the fumble and roared downfield. A moment later Durant completed at 23-yard pass to Littrell who had leaked out into the flat and made an incredibly athletic grab on the 7-yard line, somehow staying in bounds then lunging into the endzone to score. make it 20-0 as the half wound to a close.
“The found some holes defensively,” said Scott Stevens, head coach of the 1-4 Bulldogs. “They got us in some formations where we had some weak coverages and were able to get some big plays, hats off to those guys and Newsted finding some of those openings we had in the secondary.”
In the third, Littrell scored again on a one-yard rush and Durant rushed for a two-point conversion. Luke Hunter iced the cake in the top of the fourth with a 92 yard touchdown run down the west sideline.
A pair of interceptions by Luke Hunter and AJ Hombs also brightened the game’s last quarter for Centralia Head Coach Jim Newsted and the Panther faithful.
The mood was good in the Panthers’ post-game huddle.
“Guess what folks we can pass the ball, no matter what anyone says,” Newsted told the surrounding Panthers. “Great job John, great job Jake…”
As the Panthers filed off the field to join family and friends, Newsted continued.
Addressing the Fireside Guard, he discussed the first quarter. “We had some little mishaps at first, it’s not so much that they shut us down up from but their D-line is good and we had some confused missteps on our blocking… Things weren’t going right so I decided to go back to shotgun.”
He said he saw Brookfield working to stop Centralia’s run, but that left them open to the passing game.
“We hit those passes,” Newsted said, then addressed the interceptions and blocked passed with which the Panthers plague Brookfield’s passing game. “We put a lot of pressure on him in the pocket, he was scrambling back there a lot. He was running for his life back there and trying to get the ball to somewhere.”
Stevens acknowledged that. “We’re definitely not a team that wants to throw the ball a lot but against that defense we had to do something. Bodine in the middle caused us a lot of problems. He was the guy we knew we’d have to account for, he forced us to force our hand a little bit and throw the football.”
One observer had this to say about Centralia’s defense. “Wesley Redington and Trevor Bodine also made several trips into the Bulldog line keeping the dogs from gaining any momentum. You could see the Brookfield big men start to put hands on hips in the second quarter. Centralia simply took over after that.”
Bodine’s performance, he finished the game with seven total tackles, garnered notice.
As another observer said. “He is simply a disruptive force out there. He was just blowing the center off the ball and taking on the guards. Ideally you’d like to double team him and drive him into the back, but he’s just blowing them up… He gets up into the seam, he penetrates and moves the line of scrimmage backward.”
Beau Gordon, Littrell and Hombs also had seven tackles. Littrell had two tackles for loss.
Mike Donaldson had six tackles.
The Panther defense held Brookfield to 164 yards, 80 in the air and 84 on the ground.
The Panther offense took 405 yards from Brookfield, 226 passing and 179 rushing.
Durant passed for 218 yards and three touchdowns. Frilled caught two of those and gained 122 yards, Littrell one for 71. Luke Hunter had two receptions for 25 yards.
On the ground Hunter led in rushing with 122 yards, followed by Durant with 72 and Freidel with 14.
Afterward, Brookfield head Coach Scott Stevens was pensive. “It was what we expected,” he said of Centralia’s offense. “We had some bad coverages there, which gave them some big plays, something we’ve got to fix… I’m just happy the way my guys fought, normally in a game like this, a team would hang their heads. They didn’t, they just kept on fighting.”
Next up are the Mexico Bulldogs for Homecoming 2019, Friday, October 4. As one informed fan said from the sidelines: “Centralia is really showing some dominance mid season. Homecoming against the neighbors down Highway 22 should prove to be a much closer contest than in recent years. Perhaps the Panthers can put the dogs in a cage for two weeks in a row, stay tuned.”
Editor’s note: more to come.