Red Devils have not completed mission
By Mark Clark
Central High coach Jamey DuBose should have been in a more festive mood following his team’s 50-16 victory over Park Crossing last Friday night at Garrett-Harrison Stadium. After all, the Red Devils had just won their annual Homecoming game. And, it was the 23rd consecutive regular season victory – which includes a string of 14 straight region victories in a row – for his team.
But, he was not the “happy camper” you would have expected. DuBose said the team needed to regain its focus instead of listening to what others are saying about them.
DuBose sees, hears the rat poison
“I hate to borrow from someone else, but we have got to quit listening to the ‘rat poison’ like Coach (Nick) Saban says about Alabama. We are getting told on a daily basis, right now, how great we are, but I still see things we need to work on. You’ve got to tell people that and correct that. The kids hear what people are saying about them and start walking around like they have won a state title. We haven’t won a state title. Heck, we haven’t even played for one. We need to regain our focus as a team and be humble. It’s my job to see that we do that,” DuBose said after the victory over the Thunderbirds to improve to 6-0.
Do not misunderstand DuBose’s comments as total disappointment with his Red Devils’ play against Park Crossing. He was not. He was only giving his team the critique others fail to convey.
“Proud for the win tonight, but we were supposed to win this game. We have other games down the road that we are supposed to win. Are we going to win them or are we going to struggle through them? That’s my question. We have to become that great team that can come on the field and win the game in the first half. I thought we did well tonight in the first half. I just do not think we are playing up to our capability. That’s what I see from the sideline. I don’t just look at the ‘w.’ I see the things we have got to correct to be able to beat the great teams we are going to see in the next half of the season,” DuBose said.
Enterprise next up for Central
Perhaps when the victory over Park Crossing had been won, DuBose was already looking to this week’s opponent – Enterprise High. The Wildcats are the only team in the region to slap a loss on the Red Devils during the regular season since DuBose took over the program in 2014. Enterprise defeated Central 17-14 in October of 2015 in a game filled with controversy and shown statewide on television. It is a game DuBose finds hard to forget.
“Yep, yep, the only one. That was a tough loss. You know they are not having a great year this year. I’m not going to try to hide from it because I feel like when I try to tell people you have got to get ready, they keep telling people they are not very good. We’ll play the game and hopefully, we will worry about ourselves and get better at what we do. Then I will be happy,” DuBose said.
Enterprise is 2-4 for the season overall and 0-3 in Region 2. The Wildcats won their first two games of the season over Dothan and Charles Henderson, but are now mired in a four-game losing streak. Central will host the Wildcats tomorrow night at Garrett-Harrison Stadium. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET.
Devils score three times in first quarter
DuBose has wished for his team to start fast to put opponents away early all season. The plan was no different against Park Crossing last week. Central’s offense did as its coach wished by scoring three touchdowns – one with an assist going to the team’s defensive play.
LSU commit Peter Parrish guided Central on a five-play, 63-yard scoring march with the Red Devils’ first offensive possession. Arkansas commit A’Montae Spivey, Central’s top runner, ran 14 yards on the drive’s initial play. Parrish then connected with Kameron Mason on a 29-yard pass. After an incomplete pass, Parrish found Drake Holloway for a 16-yard gain on his third pass attempt. Robert Marsh ran the final 14 yards for the touchdown. With Noah Pell’s extra-point kick, Central led 7-0. The drive to a minute and 23 seconds off the clock from start to finish.
Central’s second touchdown capped a 90-yard drive on the Red Devils’ second possession. Parrish ran for 56 yards on four carries during the drive, He hit EJ Williams on a three-yard touchdown toss for the points. Williams caught the ball at the goal line and, as Park Crossing defenders pushed him away from the end zone, twisted away from a would-be tackler and dove for the pylon for the points with 6:42 remaining in the first quarter. The attempt for an extra-point kick was thwarted by a bad snap. Tucker Melton attempted to turn the play into a two-point conversion, but his pass was incomplete. Central led 13-0.
Central safety and Clemson commit Ray Thornton gave the Red Devils offense its final scoring opportunity of the first quarter. Thornton picked off a Park Crossing pass and returned it 26 yards to the Thunderbirds’ 34. On the first play of the new possession, Parrish found Williams for his second touchdown passing. Williams caught the ball and raced for the end zone. He made his final steps with a couple of Park Crossing defenders wrapped around him. With Pell’s kick, Central went to the second quarter leading 20-0.
Red Devils post 17 more points in the second quarter
Park Crossing scored on the first play of the second quarter with an 80-yard touchdown reception to cut the Central margin to 14 points. Park Crossing missed the extra-point and Central led 20-6.
The last 7:17 of the quarter ended in a flurry as Central scored 17 points with its final three possessions. First, Central drove 88 yards in seven plays to make the score 27-6. Joseph McKay, who led Central with 105 yards on 12 carries, highlighted the possession with a 53-yard run. On third-and-1 at the Park Crossing 22, H-Back Tommy Vickers slipped out of the backfield to catch a 15-yard pass from Parrish for a first down at the Thunderbirds’ seven. Spivey took three plays to punch it in from there with 4:19 to play in the half. Pell kicked the extra-point and Central led 27-6.
After stopping Park Crossing’s ensuing possession and forcing a punt, The Thunderbirds added to their misery with a 15-yard penalty that moved the ball to their 42, giving Melton a short field to direct the Central scoring drive. He hit passes of nine and 29 yards to Travon Alexander and Williams on back-to-back plays to move the ball to the Thunderbirds’ 2. Melton ran it in to the end zone for the touchdown with 1:21 left in the half. Pell’ kick made the score 34-6.
Central regained possession with 46.7 seconds left in the half at the Park Crossing 48. Parrish ran 18 yards on the first play of the drive and then threw a 27-yard pass to Holloway to the three-yard-line with 6.7 seconds left. Central attempted one shot for a touchdown with a pass that fell incomplete with 1.7 seconds left in the half. Pell went in and booted a 25-yard field goal as time expired in the half to give Central a 37-6 advantage.
The streak ends in the second half
Park Crossing opened the second half with the longest drive of the night, taking 14 plays to move within inches of the Central end zone. But, the Red Devils’ defense stopped the Thunderbirds’ short of the end zone on first down. On second down, Park Crossing appeared to score on a short touchdown pass. However, DuBose challenged the call that it was a catch. After review, the touchdown was waved off. Central’s defense stopped Park Crossing inches short of the end zone on a run play. The Thunderbirds were then hit with a five-yard penalty. An incomplete pass, a two-yard loss and another five-yard penalty left Park Crossing facing fourth-and-goal from Central’s 13. The Thunderbirds attempted a 32-yard field goal that was good to make the score 37-9 with 5:09 left in the third quarter.
Central answered the Park Crossing field goal with a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff. Spivey hauled in the ball and ran 75 yards for a touchdown with 4:55 left in the quarter. Pell added the extra-point to make the score 44-9.
Park Crossing added a 55-yard touchdown pass before the quarter ended to make the score 44-16.
Central began its final scoring drive of the night as the third quarter was ending. The Red Devils drove 45 yards in nine plays. Melton connected with Peter Jakes on a 19-yard pass play to the Park Crossing 4-yard-lline on the final play of the third quarter. The first four plays of the fourth quarter were all one-yard runs. The final one by McKay into the end zone for the touchdown. Pell’s extra-point kick was blocked and ended a perfect record of extra-point kicks at 35. He is now 35-of-36 for the season on extra-point attempts.
In addition to McKay’s 105 yards with a touchdown, Parrish ran for 79 yards on seven carries and Spivey had 45 yards on 10 carries with a touchdown. Marsh ran the ball twice for 24 yards and scored a TD. Parrish completed 6-of-11 passes for 114 yards with a pair of TDs. Melton was 6-of-12 for 83 yards. Williams caught four passes for 77 yards with two touchdowns.