DAY 16: Complete effort helps Spartans down Boswell
Sports Editors Note:
This is the seventh in a series of 17 football game stories that will tout either a Burleson or Centennial victory. The series is meant to get you excited about the upcoming season and also serve as a lead up to the release of our 2016 Football Section in our Aug. 18 edition.
SOUTHLAKE – Playing what might have been Centennial’s most complete game of the season paid off Friday night.
The Spartans defense shut down a solid Saginaw Boswell offense while Centennial’s defense controlled the ball and the clock on the way to 28-10 victory over the Pioneers in a Class 5A Division I Region I area-round playoff game at Dragon Stadium.
“The defense played great,” Centennial coach Kyle Geller said. “Every time they started moving the ball a little bit, it seemed like Jordan Jackson would come up with a big play.
The Spartans) now take on the role of pioneers as they travel west for a regional semifinal game against the winner Canyon Randall in Sweetwater.
“I am speechless,” said tailback Shayne Streminski, regarding the victory. “It’s crazy. We keep making history.”
Centennial’s triple option attack that 463 yards rushing on 58 carries and its defense flew to the ball all night, limited the Pioneers to 250 yards on 54 plays.
“Our defensive staff have put together some good game plans all year,” Geller said. “They put guys in positions to make plays. We try to make things happen on defense. It meshes with our offense. It’s been a good formula.”
Not only was the victory a milestone for the four-year varsity program which had never won a playoff game it also marked the first time the Spartans’ offense created three 100-yard rushers.
All three runners were juniors, which bodes well for next season.
Quarterback Payton Strambler carried 23 times 196 yards and scores of 1 and 6 yards. Streminski finished with 127 yards on 25 attempts and slot back Blake Birdwell carried six times for 119 yards and scored on a 15-yard run. Junior Kelton Tezeno’s added a touchdown on a 13-yard run.
“They were giving me the ball and they were blocking well around the edge,” said Birdwell of his success running the ball.
Senior end Jordan Jackson, the program’s all-time sack leader, spent so much time in the Pioneers’ backfield he might be invited to pose in Boswell’s team photo.
The Spartans’ senior-laden defense stopped Boswell’s offense cold most of the night. Seniors Nathan French, Gage Isaacs and Patch Van Weezel slowed the Pioneers’ quarterback duo of Gabe Kurtzhauls and Anthony Ramirez.
“Our coaches had a great game plan for us and they made it simple,” Jackson said. “We just have to make tackles. That’s all we have to do. The line allowed me to make plays and do our job.
It’s unbelievable. We are making history every game. We love it.”
After being forced to punt on its first possession, Centennial got the ball back at the Spartans 37 when Van Weezel stripped the ball and Birdwell recovered. On the next play, Birdwell raced 62 yards to the Pioneers 1. Two plays later, Strambler scored his first touchdown of the game for a 7-0 lead.
Centennial strung together a 10-play, 65-yard drive on its next possession. The Spartans took a 14-3 lead on a Tezeno 13-yard run. The Spartans first drive of the second half started at the Boswell 49 after a failed onside kick attempt. Nine plays later, Strambler scored from a yard out for a 21-3 lead.
Damon Williams’ 13-yard touchdown run helped Boswell cut the Spartans lead to 21-10 but the Pioneers would get no closer. Centennial capped the scoring on its next possession when Birdwell scored for 15 yards out.
The win also marked the second a win over a team that the Spartans had lost to in its last meeting. Boswell topped Centennial, 41-38, in double overtime in a non-district game this season.
“This is a special team,” Geller said. “We give it our best and look where we are at.”