Bears halt Spartans’ season
MIDLOTHIAN - Expectations were high for Centennial going into Friday’s playoff game with Dallas South Oak Cliff.
The Spartans had dreams of practicing on Thanksgiving day for the second-consecutive season and maybe even advancing to the regional finals.
The problem for the Spartans was South Oak Cliff’s coaching staff had a devised the perfect game plan for the Class 5A Division II Region II area-round playoff game and executed it well.
The end result was a 45-24 win by the Bears at Midlothian ISD’s Multi-Purpose Stadium. The loss halted Centennial’s best season on the school’s five-year varsity history at 10-2. Only Burleson’s 2001 squad which went 11-3 has more wins in a season by a BISD team.
“It’s a very bitter pill to swallow because we didn’t play our game,” Centennial coach Kyle Geller said. “There’s just a laundry list of things we didn’t do well. Special Teams didn’t perform well. We didn’t communicate on defense. We missed a lot of calls on defense. Offensively we didn’t get the big play and weren’t able to sustain any long drives.”
South Oak Cliff (9-3) will take on Mesquite Poteet (9-3) in a regional quarterfinal game.
The Bears used Centennial’s game-plan against them. South Oak Cliff controlled the ball and clock playing keep away from the Spartans.
The Bears made the most of their possessions scoring on three consecutive possessions to build a 21-14 halftime lead.
“I told everyone from the get go that they were a well-coached football team,” Geller said. “They certainly had a great plan for us tonight. They executed their plan. All the credit to them.“
Then after Centennial tied things up at 24-24 on the first play of the third quarter on a 53-yard run by Kelton Tezeno, South Oak Cliff scored 21 unanswered points.
“I thought when we tied the game up that things were turning our way,” Geller said. “Then everything fell apart. Sometimes you don’t have good answers for what happened.”
In the fourth quarter, running back K.C. Cook gave the Bears the lead with a 9-yard scoring run.
After Centennial failed to move the ball on its next two possessions, running back Jordan Ray scored on a pair of 33-yard jaunts.
Ray, along with the Bears’ defense, was the story of the game. The senior scored five rushing touchdowns while carrying 29 times for 175. The Bears ability to run the ball to kept it away from the Spartans ground churning offense.
Centennial finished with game with 315 yards rushing on 33 attempts but 141 of those yards came on two plays - Tezeno’s 57-yard run and Darrell Williams’ 84-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage.
South Oak Cliff countered the score with three touchdowns by Ray. The first was set up by an 80-yard kickoff return by Rickey Wren. Then after the Bears drove 44-yards in eight plays to take a 14-7 lead they dug into their bag of tricks.
A successful on-side kick gave South Oak Cliff back-to-back possession and led to a 21-7 first quarter lead when Ray scored from six yards out. Centennial was able to cut the lead to 21-14 by halftime thanks to a 20-yard scoring scamper by Tezeno.
Tezeno finished the game with 105 yards on eight carries while Williams has 142 yards on 11 attempts.
Playing in what would be his final game, Spartans quarterback Payton Strambler tallied 30 yards on eight carries and completed 6-of-11 passes for 30 yards and two interceptions.
“It’s like I told the seniors and team afterwards it’s really hard to talk about the success we’ve had this season when we didn’t play our best,” Geller said. “It’s going to take this Thanksgiving break to get over it and probably longer than that for me. It’s hard. We had high expectations going into this game and when you fall short of your own expectations it hurts.”
Last season, Centennial defeated Fort Worth Arlington Heights and Saginaw Boswell before falling to Canyon Randall in the regional quarterfinals. That was the deepest playoff run the Spartans had ever made.