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Cougars edge closer to playoffs with Senior Night win

There were two sights at Centennial High School last night that were new to Cougar fans. The first showed Centennial stopping Ravenwood 35-7 on Senior Night, the largest margin of victory in school history against the county rival.


The second was the standing ovation the team gave to the student section after the game.


“The student body has done an amazing job of supporting us all year long and coming up with a lot of creative ways to celebrate and enjoy a football season and they should. That’s what high school is all about,” said Cougar head coach Brian Rector.


The Cougar faithful had plenty to celebrate after the midway point of the game. Both the Raptors and Centennial were slow to get started. Centennial held a slender 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, having taken the opening kickoff 54 yards in just over four minutes, capped by Scottie Fleming’s 1-yard dive.


Ravenwood sputtered on offense on their opening drive, drawing three penalties in six plays. But the defense pulled the Raptors back into the contest, as Alex Lyons intercepted a J.J.Tomlin pass, giving Ravenwood the ball at the Cougar 25-yard line and facing a defense that had struggled in the last four games, giving up 152 points over that span.


The Raptors drove quickly to the Centennial 4-yard line, aided by a 15-yard run on a fake punt by Michael Giangreco. But the Centennial defense stuffed four straight runs.


“That was probably the highlight of the night,” said Rector with a smile. 


The defensive stop, plus a Malik Grimes fumble recovery on a punt, seemed to light a fire under the offense. Centennial scored twice in the final five minutes of the first half, with Tomlin hitting Fleming for an 18-yard throw and catch that saw Fleming break four tackles in the last eight yards, and then finding Emanuel Hall loose along the right sidelines for 61 yards, the last 45 Hall covered pulling away from defenders.


Tomlin scattered 12 completions between six receivers in just 18 attempts. Hall caught four for 90 yards and junior Bailey Wisniowski also grabbed four.


But the Raptors were not ready to go without a fight, using a long kickoff return to start the following drive at the Centennial 36-yard line. It took Taylor Warren only one play to cover the distance for Ravenwood’s only points of the night.


With a 21-7 lead, Centennial started the second half attempting to pound the ball on the ground.  Fleming carried seven straight times, moving his team from their own 25 to the Ravenwood 34-yard line. Two plays later Tomlin lofted a rope to back of the end zone where senior Chris Shuff made an almost impossible catch, getting a foot down for the score from 18-yards out.


The final points of the night were a showcase for sophomore Deon Sanders.  With the Cougars starting at their own 38, Sanders rushed six straight times, covering the 62-yard distance in just three minutes, rolling in from 20 yards out on his last attempt. Sanders finished the night with 97 yards rushing on only eight attempts as the Cougars gained 171 yards on the ground behind a determined offensive line working against a strong Raptor front four.


Rector was pleased with the results of a week of hard work.


“We wanted to do whatever we could to see if we had the will to impose on somebody else. We really needed to be able to line up and run the ball.”


Ravenwood was outgained on the night 353-169 in total offense, but the Raptors did use eight different runners, led by Jake Cameron’s 32 yards on nine attempts, to gain 128 yards on the ground.


The win leaves the Cougars 5-3 on the season and 2-2 in District 11-AAA. Next Friday’s game on the road at Shelbyville looms large for Centennial with Shelbyville in the same 5-A playoff classification.  A trip to district rival and 5-A counterpart Hillsboro ends the regular season in two weeks.


Ravenwood falls to 1-7 on the season and 1-3 in the district. The Raptors visit Smyrna next Friday before ending the season at home against Independence in two weeks.

Posted on: 10/13/2012


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