Passing offense a highlight in Central loss

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By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register

The Central football program entered the Oct. 9 game against 3-3 Northwood-Kensett mired in the struggles of rebuilding under a new coaching regime. While the 1-5 Warriors have shown signs of improvement, most notably in the punting game, where Evan Pensel seems to have solidified the position, averaging 27.6 yards per punt, the offense and defense are still searching for an identity. Northwood-Kensett won the match-up 70-21.

On the defensive side, tackling has been an ongoing issue, so much so that head coach Joe Koehn acknowledged the coaching staff’s efforts to improve it. 

“We worked two days this week on trying to fix our tackling issues, and we looked pretty good the last two days, so just making sure that we stick to our assignments and finish tackles with help from other teammates,” he said. 

The Warriors entered the game with players filling in at positions they don’t normally play due to injuries and playing man coverage, with the intent of sticking to assignments and getting to their spots. The idea was to stop the vaunted Northwood-Kensett rushing attack, which averages 6.5 yards a carry. While the defense prevented a 100-yard rusher and came away with three tackles for a loss, they still gave up 341 yards and allowed 10 yards per carry. 

When asked about it, Koehn said, “Our D-line has been doing a much better job…they just ran a lot of keeps, and we had a hard time keeping our eyes on the QB.”  

The defense recorded 30 total tackles, led by Hazen Loan with 5.5, Nick Deitchler with 5 and Noah Diersen with 4.5, while Elliot Kelly and Joel Thiese each had 3. Loan also recovered a fumble. 

Another problem the defense faced was shutting down the passing attack. According to Koehn, “It seemed like they were passing a lot more than what we saw in film, and we just had a hard time keeping their QB contained.” 

During the game, Northwood attempted four passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. 

When it came to the offense, the plan was to stick to the running game, but it stalled out and Koehn made the switch to a more passing-oriented attack. 

“We couldn’t get the run game going like we always want to. So, we went into our pro set and started passing more and had a bit of success out of it,” he said. 

The team rushed 30 times for 37 yards–for a 1.7-yards-per-carry average—and produced no touchdowns. Evan Schroeder was the leading rusher with 18 attempts for 25 yards, while the other four rushers combined for 21 yards.

Before the Warriors knew it, they were down 48-6 at halftime. 

“We started out very flat and then began to pick things up more in the second half,” Koehn said. 

Indeed, the offense was more productive in the second half. Loan hauled in two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, finishing the game with four receptions, 155 yards and three touchdowns. Teammate Sean Wilwert added two receptions for 22 yards, and Pensel grabbed three receptions for 53 yards. 

Leading the aerial attack was quarterback Schroeder, who passed for 230 yards, three touchdowns and one interception while completing nine of 23 passes. He finished the game with a QB rating of 134.9. 

Outside the win against West Central, the fourth quarter of this game might have been the single-best quarter of football the Warriors have played all season.  

The Warriors look to build on that in the final game of the season at Central City on Thursday, Oct. 15.

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