Missed tackles, limited offense lead to Central loss

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Defensive lineman Joel Thiese (60) makes a tackle with help from his teammates during Central’s Sept. 4 game against Springville. (Photos by Bev Hamann)

Warrior wide receiver Hazen Loan (33) takes the pitch from quarterback Evan Schroeder.

Fullback Sean Wilwert (9) goes in motion as quarterback Evan Schroeder waits for the ball to be hiked.

Evan Pensel, James Eberhardt, Hazen Loan and CJ Polkinghorn celebrated Senior Night on Sept. 4.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register

Going into last Friday’s football game against the Springville Orioles, Central Head Coach Joe Koehn felt good about the match-up.

“Both teams have speed and some athletes who know how to use it. I am very excited to see how things play out…we have been focusing on staying low in all aspects of the game,” he said. 

However, as the final whistle blew, the score showed a one-sided affair, as Springville defeated the Warriors 81-0. 

Starting on the defensive side of the football, Koehn acknowledged one of the keys to victory was stopping number 22, the “fast and shifty” running back Spencer DeMean, and the Orioles’ rushing attack in general, which put up 351 yards the week before. 

“If we can shut the run game down, stay on our blocks and finish our tackles, I feel confident in the defensive line to get a rush and cause pressure,” Koehn said. 

Overall, the defense limited DeMean to just 132 yards and three touchdowns, but other running backs took over, gaining another 120 yards, for 252 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. 

In terms of applying pressure on the quarterback, the Warrior defense did hold Bryce Wilson to one completion, albeit for a touchdown, but they also recorded zero sacks, had two tackles for a loss and were unable to force a turnover. Elliott Kelly was the top Central performer on defense, totaling seven tackles and one tackle for a loss. 

“We had trouble breaking down when tackling,” Koehn said.

While the Warrior defense surrendered about 100 fewer yards than Central City did against Springville, the Orioles benefited from better starting field position against the Warriors, who averaged 22.4 yards per punt, a significant increase over their week one loss. 

The Central special teams unit averaged 16.5 yards per kickoff return, gaining 214 yards on 13 kickoff returns, which was an improvement over the previous week, where they averaged 5.1 yards on eight attempts. They also did not have a punt blocked this week, after having two blocked last week. 

On the offensive side of the ball, passing yards were up a little, while rushing yards were down. Central quarterback Evan Schroeder went one for seven for 35 yards. Kelly briefly replaced him when he was shaken up in the second quarter, but Schroeder eventually returned. 

“Kelly did a good job coming in and filling in for Evan when he was injured,” Koehn said.

On the game, the team passed for 59 yards, four completions and three interceptions, one of which was returned for a pick-six. Evan Pensel caught one pass for 35 yards, the longest reception of the game for Central. The rushing attack, led by Noah Diersen (28 yards on seven carries), rushed 32 times for a total of 20 yards. 

Speaking about the offense, Koehn said, “We had a hard time getting our offense going and, when you can’t put points on the board, it’s hard to win football games.” 

When asked what adjustments or changes might be made to the offense, Koehn was adamant that the offense is sound. 

“We believe that our offense works. We just need to continue to improve on the little things. It’s all part of the process…the biggest obstacle is ourselves. We just need to believe in what we’re doing…everyone needs to focus on doing their individual jobs and good things will happen,” he said. 

As for what the future holds, Koehn said, “We’ll get to work on Monday with tackling and other specific adjustments to prepare for Midland.” 

Other than football, the game was also Senior Night, and all seniors were celebrated at halftime, including wide receiver Evan Pensel, running back Hazen Loan, offensive guard CJ Polkinghorn and defensive end James Eberhardt.  

The team looks to rebound Friday night, Sept. 12, against the 0-1 Midland Eagles. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Wyoming Fairgrounds. 

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