Spartans fall to Eagles in District 9-5A opener
CROWLEY – Centennial football coach Kyle Geller summed up Friday’s loss to Crowley succinctly in his post-game interview.
“Everybody did something good and everybody did something bad,” Geller said. “Unfortunately, tonight some of the bad things hurt us.”
In three non-district games, Centennial made noise getting off to a 3-0 start.
But Friday night, the only noise heard was that of the Spartans’ stumbling in a 39-21 District 9-5A opening loss at Eagle Stadium.
The loss halted a six-game regular season win streak and a two-game winning streak against Crowley. The Spartans (3-1, 0-1) have a big game at 7:30 p.m. Friday for homecoming against Cleburne.
“This was a good wake-up call for us,” Geller said. “We have a lot of improvement to make. Hopefully we can get some things improved in practice this week.”
Cleburne (4-0, 1-0) presents quite a challenge for the Spartans. The Jackets defeated Everman at home, 34-17, in their 9-5A opener. Coming in the game, Cleburne was averaging 57.3 points in three non-district games.
Jackets’ quarterback Trevon Bradley has thrown for 867 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for 854 yards and 13 scores this season. Running back Isaiah Romero (55 carries, 374 yards, 3 TDs) and receivers Jordan Gann (16 catches, 297 yards, 3 TDs) and Braden Walthall (20-226, 3 TDs) make Cleburne even stronger.
“(Bradley) is such a talent and a great player,” Geller said. “He is going to do some things and make some yards. We have to find a way to slow him down but he’s not a one-man show. He has some good receivers, a good running back and a much-improved offensive line.”
Friday night, the Eagles (3-1, 1-0) hammered Centennial’s defense with their version of “Thunder, Lightning and Rain” in the form of running backs Jamerian Biscoe, Mook Haley and Roderick Williams.
Biscoe scored on runs of 6, 1 and 2 yards and finished with 63 yards rushing on 13 carries. Haley carried 13 times for 74 yards and Rodrick Williams led Crowley carrying 14 times of 170 yards and a touchdown.
Crowley ran for 330 yards on 46 carries and added 161 yards passing.
Trailing, 19-7, Centennial’s first possession of the second half ended in disaster when Crowley’s Brynnen Sanders blocked a punt and returned the ball 27 yards for a 26-7 lead. It was the first time Spartans have had a punt block in three seasons.
A trick play cut the Eagles advantage to 26-14 three plays later when receiver Xander Richards hit a wide open Blake Birdwell for an 82-yard score. Richards had a good night for the Spartans throwing a touchdown pass and catching four passes for 103 yards. Birdwell grabbed two passes for 121 yards and a score.
Crowley took a page out of Centennial’s play book stringing together a time consuming 11-play, 72-yard drive that was capped by a 2-yard Biscoe scoring run for a 33-14 lead.
It took Centennial four plays to cut the lead to 33-21 on a 47-yard by Braden Hirsch.
The Spartans halted Crowley’s ensuing possession with an interception at the Centennial 9. After a 64-yard pass from Payton Strambler to Richards, Centennial seemed on the verge of cutting the Eagles lead to five points. But it wasn’t to be as Strambler’s pass to an open Richards inside the Eagle 5 sailed high and was intercepted in the end zone. It was third of fourth Centennial interception of the night.
“‘We had a chance to close to within a touchdown but the interception hurt us,” Geller said. “We have to do a better job of protecting Payton.”
The Spartans usually potent ground game produced just 157 yards on 28 attempts in the loss. The fullback position, which Geller has been trying to establish all season, accounted for 54 yards on 16 attempts.
“We have to establish the fullback better,” Geller said. “We just aren’t getting enough yards inside against what they were trying to do against us defensively.”