Central football team wins big at homecoming game

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The Warrior defense makes a joint tackle in the team’s Sept. 10 homecoming win over Calamus-Wheatland. (Photos by Bev Hamann)

Central quarterback Elliot Kelly hands the ball off to fullback Noah Diersen in the 76-31 win.

Evan Schroeder races for the end zone in Friday night's game. He ran for 177 yards on 14 carries and scored five touchdowns.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


It was a long week of practice for the Central football team heading into their homecoming match-up against Calamus-Wheatland. The Warriors had suffered a tough loss the previous week and the practice field was still unusable due to flooding, but in the words of head coach Joe Koehn, this is a team that knows how to “roll with the punches.” 


“We needed to let that loss sting a little bit but to forget about it and move on,” he said. “We just kept moving on and aren’t looking back. This team seems to deal with a lot of adversity and we just keep pushing through. It might not be pretty, but we push through it. Because, with tough losses comes learning, and with difficult situations you tend to develop a sense of tenacity and toughness.” 


That toughness and tenacity was on full display against Calamus-Wheatland (C-M), albeit after a surprise on-side kick that eventually led to a C-M touchdown that had Central on its heels quickly in the first quarter.  


“The kids came in a bit over confident. I had been talking about that all week. We have to stay humble and stay focused,” Koehn said of the early lapse. 


But what followed was 56 unanswered points in the first half and a dominant Central victory of 76-31. 


While Koehn had some concerns about Calamus-Wheatland’s style of play, namely the use of trick and gadget plays and throwback passes, he also believed the opponent’s use of sweeps and option plays favored the Central defense. As the stats suggest, he was right, especially through the first two quarters, when Central only allowed six points. 


“I had to get after a few of the kids this week about sticking to our assignments. We have to be strict in how we go about things and stay disciplined. Our defense did a much better job of doing that this week. They were staying home, pursuing properly and staying in their lanes. Our pass rush needs to work on using their hands. We have some physical kids up front, but we just need to put all the pieces together,” Koehn remarked. 


Overall, the defense held Calamus-Wheatland to 139 yards passing and 206 yards rushing, most of which came after the game was decidedly in hand. 


The Warriors recorded 62.5 total tackles, with Elliot Kelly leading the team with 11, followed by Noah Diersen with seven, Maddux Egiseder with six, Evan Schroeder with five, Kale Doeppke with five and Nathan Shirbroun with four. The defense also recorded one sack, coming from Diersen, and 11 tackles for a loss. Kelly had four of those, while Egiseder and Diersen each had two. Diersen also recovered a fumble and teammate Nick Deitchler had an interception. Additionally, the Warrior defense forced three C-M punts. 


On offense, Central has one goal: to win the line of scrimmage and establish the run. The Warriors can do this by having great chemistry between quarterback Kelly and two rotating fullbacks, Sean Wilwert and Diersen, as well as running back Schroeder. The group runs behind an experienced group of offensive linemen in Brandon Whittle, Riley Keene, Ryan Schroeder and Lane Orr. 


That chemistry and experience paid dividends Friday night, as Central averaged 14.2 yards per carry and put up 369 yards rushing on 26 carries for 10 touchdowns. 


The Warriors had two 100-yard rushers in Evan Schroeder, who ran for 177 yards on 14 carries and scored five touchdowns, and Kelly, who rushed for 109 yards on just two carries while scoring twice. Logan Sharp added 48 yards and one touchdown on two carries. Other runners scoring a touchdown were Deitchler and Wilwert. 


With the running game doing its job, the passing game remains a work in progress, as Kelly and Dietchler attempted just five passes with one completion for 13 yards, which was caught by Evan Schroeder. The offense also converted eight two-point conversions, with Evan Schroeder and Wilwert getting two each, and four players, Kelly, Diersen, Shirbroun and Ryan Schroeder, each converting one. 


“Our O-line was dominant all night and our running backs were being patient. It was just really fun watching everything we’ve worked on come together,” Koehn said.  


As for the passing attack, while Koehn stated, “If the run game is working, there’s no need to fix anything else,” he also addressed the lack of a passing game. “Our routes weren’t as crisp as they need to be. But we’ll be working on it. We have some kids that can catch and a couple guys who can throw the ball. Our O-line will also be working on pass blocking as well. Everybody has stuff that they can work on and the kids know that,” he added. 


When asked what a win like this means moving forward, Koehn said simply, “confidence.”


“A win like this gives us confidence going into all of our games this season. Our kids need confidence because that’s where we have lacked the past few years,” he added. “Coach Ledbeter has been doing a wonderful job of that with the kids throughout school and in strength and conditioning. I believe we have a good chance at making the playoffs and, in order to do that, we need to focus on getting good at what we’re good at. And, quite frankly, we can be good at whatever we want to.” 


That run to the playoffs continues at home on Sept. 17, against 2-1 Edgewood-Colesburg. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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