By the middle of the fourth quarter, the Center High School football team had done all it needed to do Friday to secure its eighth win of the season and eventually defeat O’Hara 38-7.
The Yellowjackets, 8-0, led by four touchdowns at the time. They were no doubt tired, and O’Hara had pushed the ball more than 90 yards down the field and seemed destined to punch one in.
Instead of giving way, Center shut the door. The Celtics had four shots to punch the ball in from six yards out, and ended up a yard short of the end zone.
Denying the touchdown didn’t mean a thing, except as a point of pride. And Center has plenty to be proud of these days.
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“Good kids, tough kids, playing hard. I’m so proud of this team, because we don’t have any superstars. We have several very good players, but it’s a team effort. We’ve had good teams here before, kids who are playing big-time ball who have led us,” said Center coach Bryan DeLong. “This team’s got some kids who can play big-time ball, but I really feel it’s a team effort, offense, defense, special teams, everyone together. That’s the kind of recipe you need to make a run this time of year.”
The Yellowjackets had several offensive players step up to contribute Friday. The good news for them — and the bad news for their competition — is that many of them will be back next season.
Sophomore quarterback Amaun Ryan threw for 194 yards and three touchdowns.
One of those touchdowns went to sophomore running back Rachaad White, who came back for the underthrown pass and out-jumped the defender for it in the end zone.
White showed off his speed in the fourth quarter, intercepting a tipped O’Hara pass and racing 82 yards for the score.
Junior running back Norvell Trent was the heartbeat of the offense, rumbling for 158 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. His best run — a slippery, slithering 70-yard jaunt through the O’Hara defense — was called back because of a penalty.
“It’s a great start, but we’ve got a lot more to do, though. We’ve got to continue working hard. It means a lot,” Trent said.
Junior wide receiver Cristian Cox caught the other two touchdown passes from Ryan, getting behind the O’Hara defense when the Celtics loaded the box in an attempt to slow down Trent.
“Ever since the summer, we’ve been working hard and we’re trying to build off of that coming into the season,” Cox said. “Norvell, the way he opens things up for me is great. I get to do my job because he does his job. It works out great.”
Center’s road doesn’t get any easier after the victory over O’Hara. The Yellowjackets host Sedalia Smith-Cotton next week, with a league title in the balance. The playoffs follow.
“We’ve had some bumps, but they’re staying together and working hard. We have a good mix, and hopefully we continue to build and play football the Yellowjacket way and continue to have fun on Friday nights.”
So far, it’s been nothing but fun.