The chant began on the Central High sideline as the fourth quarter began. The Red Devils held a comfortable 31-0 lead over Auburn in a repeat of the Region 2 title game. That game ended with Central taking a 34-7 victory. In the Class 7A semifinal game at Garrett-Harrison Stadium, the Red Devils shutout and shutdown the Tigers 38-0.
Now, Central will defend its 2018 title against the same team it defeated for the title – the Thompson Warriors – on December 4 at Jordan-Hare stadium for the second consecutive year. Central defeated Thompson 52-7 last year.
“I don’t care who we play. I’m just excited that we get to play another game and it is the assistant coaches. Everyone has worked hard to get us back to this point,” Central coach Jamey DuBose said after his team’s semifinal victory.
Central’s defense, in addition to pitching its second shutout of the season, held the Tigers to 80 total yards – 52 rushing yards and 28 passing yards.
It was by far the Red Devils’ best defensive effort of the season. The Red Devils held Aaron Diggs, who had 200 yards on 42 carries against McGill-Toolen to reach the semifinal game, to 46 yards on 17 carries.
“I just have to say that we have great players, but the hidden gem is our coaching staff. These guys work their rears off to get the players ready for every game. They work had to give the players a plan that will give them a chance to win. I am so proud of these coaches,” DuBose said.
On Auburn’s initial possession of the night in the semifinal, Central held the Tigers on a fourth-and-1 that put the Red Devils’ offense at their opponent’s 37 with its first possession. Seven plays later, Peter Jakes caught a ball that bounced off teammate Robert Morris’ hands for the game’s first points on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Tucker Melton with 6:48 left in the first quarter.
Central upped its lead to 10-0 with a 27-yard field goal by Noah Pell with 7:45 left in the first half.
Following a missed 47-yard field goal attempt by Auburn with 2:00 left in the half, Central went 80 yards in six plays to go into halftime leading 17-0. Melton connected with Clemson commit EJ Williams on a 53-yard pass to set up a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jakes with 33 seconds left in the half.
Central took the opening kick of the second half and went 80 yards in seven plays for a 24-0 lead. Williams caught a 44-yard pass from Melton on the first play of the second half. Joseph McKay capped the drive with a 12-yard TD run with 8:50 remaining in the third quarter.
Central’s next touchdown came on an 87-yard drive following Arkansas commit Mike Harris’ interception at the 13. It took four plays for the Red Devils to reach the end zone for a 31-0 lead, Williams scored on a 58-yard pass from Melton.
The senior wide receiver broke loose from a pair of Auburn defenders and raced the last 40 yards untouched.
Dexter Wright scored Central’s final touchdown with a 12-yard run with 6:34 left on the game clock.
Central’s offense rolled up 458 yards on Auburn. McKay was the rushing leader with 20 carries for 88 yards with a TD. Williams had four catches for 166 yards with a TD. Jakes finished with 3 catches for 36 yards with two TDs.
“It felt good to make those catches tonight. Tucker did a good job of getting the ball to me and the offensive line did a good job protecting him. It was really just a team effort tonight to get this win,” Williams said of his and his team’s performance.
Editor’s Note: Due to printing deadlines and the recent holiday, the report on Central’s semifinal victory over Auburn High was delayed until this week’s edition of the Citizen. The report on the championship game will be in next week’s newspaper as the game was played on Wednesday night after Citizen deadline.