Red Devils reach semifinal in Class 7A

It was cold.

It was wet.

It was a perfect night to get a win for the Central High Red Devils. On a night Central coach Jamey DuBose described as the “most miserable conditions I have ever had to coach in,” his Red Devils beat the Prattville High Lions 24-6 for the second time in 2019. 

The victory gave the Red Devils their first win over the Lions in a playoff game. Before last Friday, Central was 0-2 in playoff games with the Lions. The game also marked the sixth victory in a row over Prattville. Central is 7-1 against Prattville under DuBose, who was once the coach at the Red Devils rival.

“I think these were the most miserable conditions I have ever had to coach in. But the good thing is we did what we had to do under these conditions. We got out to a fast start and took a 24-6 lead into halftime. In the second half, we missed a couple of scoring opportunities. We came out and drove down the field and fumbled at their three- yard line. If we had scored then, we would not have had to work as hard in the second half. I wasn’t going to do anything risky in the second half. We wanted to run the ball and eat up clock so we could get to the house. That’s what we did,” DuBose said.

The win over the Lions set up a second meeting with another Region 2 rival – Auburn High – tomorrow night at Garrett-Harrison. Central defeated Auburn on Oct. 25 in its season finale and won 34-7 in Auburn.

“It’s hard to beat a team twice in the same season. Sometimes the players are not as focused because they remember what they did the last time. We cannot do that with Auburn. They have gotten better each week of the season. They are a well-coached team. They like to control the clock with the run and keep things where they have a chance to win late. The way you keep that from happening is you get out to a fast start and get ahead of them. We’ll have to work hard this week to get ready for them. They know the winner of this game will be in the championship game,” DuBose said.

Central got out to a fast start against Prattville, scoring on its first four possessions of the night and moved one step closer to returning to the “ship” for the second year in a row, DuBose said. And while his offense got off to a fast start, it failed to put any additional points on the scoreboard which disappointed the Red Devils coach.

“I just really felt we could have done better in the second half. But we had the fumble going in on the first drive. We missed a receiver on a pass that went high. We should have gotten at least a couple of more times. We did run the ball and eat up the clock. I’m proud of that,” DuBose said.

While the offense played a good half, the Red Devils defense played a good game all four quarters, according to DuBose.

“We played like we are supposed to play. We want to play fast and aggressive. We kept their quarterback moving. If we had allowed him to stand in the pocket, he would have picked us apart. You saw that when we didn’t put pressure on him. I was proud of all the players on defense. The secondary played well and held them to just over a hundred yards passing. Our defensive line and linebackers held them to under a hundred yards rushing,” DuBose said.

Prattville had 69 yards running the ball and 122 yards passing the ball for a total of 191 yards. Central ran for 228 yards on the ground and another 114 through the air for a total of 342 yards. 

Joseph McKay ran the ball 12 times for 104 yards with two touchdowns. He scored the games first two touchdowns with runs of 3 and 5 yards. The first touchdown capped a 50-yard drive in four plays. McKay ran for 40 yards on his first carry of the night. His 3-yard touchdown came with 7:31 left in the first quarter. 

Central’s defense set up that touchdown by stopping Prattville on a fourth down with inches to go fir a first down at the midfield stripe. The second Central touchdown came with 3:06 left in the opening quarter after Nate Carpenter blocked the Lions’ first punt attempt, giving Red Devils the ball at the Prattville 30. Eight plays later McKay scored on his 5-yard run.

B.J. Randolph set up Central’s next scoring opportunity by stripping the ball from the Prattville quarterback at the Central 48. The turnover led to a 33-yard field goal by Noah Pell.

Central’s final points came after Prattville cut the Red Devils’ lead to 17-6. Prattville’s extra point attempt was blocked. Central used a 47-yard kickoff return to the Prattville 25 to set up its last touchdown of the night. Central drove to the Lions’ 7 and McKay appeared to score his third touchdown of the night but a holding penalty negated the points. On the next play, Trey Miles found EJ Williams on a 17-yard touchdown pass with 2:00 left in the half. Central led 24-6.

Central will host Auburn tomorrow night at 8 p.m. ET at Garrett-Harrison Stadium.