Good outweighs bad in Spartans' opening-night win
FORT WORTH – Season-opening games are strange sometimes.
Such was the case Friday night when Centennial and Saginaw Boswell faced off at Pioneer Stadium in a non-district game.
Both squads did good and bad things but by game’s end Centennial had done enough to defeat Boswell, 26-23.
“I told the team the best thing about winning tonight is that we have so much room for improvement,” Centennial coach Kyle Geller said. “If we do keep improving we are going to be a pretty good team in the end.”
The victory was the Spartans (1-0) third consecutive season-opening win and second consecutive win over the Pioneers (0-1). The teams have played four times in the past three seasons.
Centennial is slated to host Birdwell (1-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Burleson ISD Stadium.
Centennial’s usual reliable running game struggled most of the night against the Pioneers defense. The Spartans ran the ball 39 times for 144 yards.
“I think offensively we have to be able to control the middle better and get the fullback game going,” Geller said. The brightest thing from the offensive tonight was the ability to throw the ball and make big plays in the passing game.”
Those big plays came from receiver Xander Richards. The Pioneers had no answer for Richards, who Geller has been touting since spring football. The 6-foot-4 target has good hands and according to Geller is one of the best receivers he has ever coached.
Richards put his talents on display catching five passes for 150 yards and touchdown. Centennial quarterback Payton Strambler completed 5 of 9 passes on the night, all to Richards.
On a night when one play could have turned the game for the Pioneers, Richards made big plays in the first and fourth quarter.
Richards capped Centennial’s second possession of the game by falling on a loose ball in the end zone for the Spartans first score of the season. Slot back Brayden Hirsch seemed headed for the 19-yard score but was stripped near the goal line. The ball bounced into the end zone and Richards fell on it for the score.
Then late in the fourth quarter with the Spartans protecting a 26-23 and facing a second-and-12 at its 38, Richards reached out to pull in a pass and turned it into a 35-yard gain to Pioneer 27.
Five plays later, Strambler finished off the game with a victory formation kneel down.
Hirsch, who had his struggles early, came up with a big special teams play in the third quarter when he downed a Strambler punt at the Boswell 1. On the second play of the Pioneers’ possession, Boswell botched a handoff in the end zone. The Pioneers were able to recover the fumble but running back Damon Williams was tackled in the end zone for a safety and a 19-9 lead.
On the next play following the free kick, Strambler hit Richards for a 29-yards score for a 26-9 lead.
Boswell scored the final 14 points of the game on a 16-yard pass from Chris Delgado to Jakoby Satroplus and a 23-yard run by Damon Williams that sliced the lead to 26-23 with 5:07 to play.
But Richards’ second-down play allowed the Spartans to run out the clock.
“We didn’t move the ball very well in the second half and we were putting our defense in bad positions,” Geller said. “If you give Boswell enough snaps they are going to do something with it.”
Delgado, who was starting at quarterback after just four days of practice at the position, had a good game. The senior completed 7-of-14 passes for 88 yards and two scores. Williams ran for a 169 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries.
“Boswell did a heck of a job tonight,” Geller said. “To have their third-team quarterback out there, he’s a heck of a player. They had a really good plan for us. My hat’s off to them. To get out of here with a win is huge.”
|C -- Fumble recovery in end zone by Xander Richards (Ryan Reid kick).|
|B -- Jackson Counts 29 FG.|
|C -- Kelton Tezeno 7 run (Ryan Reid kick).|
|B -- Breshaun Berry 25 pass from Chris Delgado (run failed).|
|C – Reid 20 FG.|
|C – Safety.|
|C -- Xander Richards 29 pass from Payton Strambler (Reid kick).|
|B -- Jakoby Satroplus 16 pass from Delgado (Counts kick).|
|B -- Damon Williams 23 run (Counts kick).|