By Mark Clark
Even with a substantial lead at halftime, Central coach Jamey DuBose was not pleased with his Red Devils and let them know it with his words in the locker room during the intermission.
“I told them to finish every play. I told them that they needed to play like the score was zero to zero. I told them to not look at the scoreboard and play like we were ahead 28-3. Our motto is “finish it.” I think we played well tonight. We got some young guys in for some reps that will help us later. Our defense is banged up a little bit and that concerns me. We will go back and try figure all that out,” DuBose said after the contest that upped his No. 3 ranked team to a 2-0 record.
And after the Red Devils defeated Meridian (Miss.) High 49-10, DuBose told his team to forget the game and start preparing for the next game – a game against rival Smiths Station High tomorrow night at Panther Stadium.
“This game is over. Forget it and get ready for Smiths Station. We will go back to work on Monday, I know it is a holiday, but we have to work to get ready for Smiths Station. We cannot take time off now. This is a big week for our community. They are 2-0, so we will have to be ready to play. It worries me about having a letdown. We cannot look at what history has done. We have to play the present game. We are going to be playing our first region game. We’ve won the region for the past four years. We want to win it again this year. We have to win our region games in order to do that,” DuBose said.
Central leads the Backyard Brawl rivalry with Smiths Station 21-5 and has won the last nine in a row. Smiths Station’s last victory over Central came in 2008 when the Mark Rose-coached Panthers won the game 27-24. Central won last year’s contest 62-7.
“I have a lot of respect for Coach (Mike) Glisson over there. We have had some success against them, but anybody can beat anybody on any Friday night. We have to worry about us. We’ve won the region several times and if we want to win it again, it starts at Smiths Station,” DuBose said.
Central certainly was not looking ahead to the Panthers last Friday night when they played host to the Meridian Wildcats. After stopping Meridian’s first possession and forcing a punt from the Wildcats’ 26, Central’s Damon Jones returned a punt 28 yards to put the Red Devils at the Meridian 38 to start their first possession of the night. On the third play of the possession, LSU commit Peter Parrish ran a quarterback keeper 25 yards for a touchdown. With Noah Pell’s kick, Central led 7-0 with 7:54 left in the opening quarter.
Central’s second scoring drive was set up when junior linebacker Jadon Richardson collected a Meridian fumble and returned it to the 50-yard-line with 17 seconds left in the first quarter. On second-and-10 at the Meridian 43 – on the first play of the second quarter – Central second team quarterback Tucker Melton connected with E.J. Williams on a touchdown toss to make the score 14-0 with 11:51 remaining in the first half.
A little over a minute later, Central’s defense backed Meridian to its 4-yard-line and forced a punt. Jones returned the punt 23 yards to the Wildcats’ 22 to set up his team’s next scoring drive. The drive was one play with Arkansas commit A’Montae Spivey carrying the football the 22 yards to the end zone to make the score 21-0 with 10:45 left in the first half.
Meridian cut the Central lead to 21-3 with Nash Acton’s 25-yard field goal with 5:44 left in the second quarter.
But, 17 seconds later Central scored again to make the score 28-3. Robert Marsh returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown – his second kickoff return for a touchdown this season. Marsh returned a kickoff 80 yards last week against Benjamin E. Mays of Atlanta for a touchdown.
Central received the kickoff to start the second half and immediately headed for the end zone. It took six plays to cover 64 yards for the points. Spivey scored on a three-yard run with 9:29 left in the third quarter. Central led 35-3.
The Red Devils began their next possession at their own 1-yard-line. After no gain on first down, Marsh ran 72 yards to the Meridian 27 on an end-around play. Parrish carried the ball for the final 27 yards on the next play to give Central a 42-3 lead.
Meridian finally found the end zone for a touchdown with its ensuing possession. The Wildcats went 75 yards in four plays against Central’s second unit defense. Rodriquz Mosley scored on a one-yard run with 2:19 left in the third quarter.
On his second possession leading the Red Devils, sophomore quarterback Trey Miles led his team to its final touchdown of the night. Miles handled the duty himself as he ran 42 yards for the touchdown with 2:50 left to play. Miles’ run made the score 49-10. The fourth quarter was played with a running clock.
Central’s trio of quarterbacks ran six times for 84 yards with three touchdowns and completed 9-of-14 passes for 154 yards with a touchdown. Parrish ran three times for 43 yards with two TDs. Miles ran twice for 41 yards with a TD. Melton completed 2-of-3 passes for 100 yards with a TD.
Spivey was Central’s leading rusher with 52 yards on six carries with two touchdowns. Williams caught two passes for 100 yards with a TD.
Marsh had 182 all-purpose yards on three touches. He returned two kickoffs for 110 yards and had one carry for 72 yards rushing.
Central’s game with Smiths Station is set for an 8 p.m. ET kickoff.