Central Tigers football coach Jeremy Thompson wanted to accomplish two things in Thursday night’s regularseason finale and final District A-8 game against the Canadian Cougars at Tiger Stadium — take care of business and get as many — if not all — of the 45 players on the team in the game.
One might say three goals were accomplished as not only did the Tigers accomplish both goals, but a third goal also was achieved as the Tigers completed a perfect regular season with a 42-16 rout of the Cougars.
“From the second quarter on, we got a lot of guys in there that we wanted to get reps during the game,” Thompson said. “They came in and did a tremendous job. You want to play 15 ball games (meaning playing for a state championship) — that’s the goal at the end of the day. Being able to create that depth, we were able to do that tonight. I’m very pleased.”
The first goal was to take care of business, and the starting line-up for the Tigers (10-0 overall, 7-0 in district play) did just that.
Just 46 seconds into the game, Central senior linebacker Gibby Mitchell recovered a Canadian fumble at the Canadian 10-yard line with 11:14 left in the first quarter.
After a loss of a yard on the first play, senior quarterback Joseph Lee scored on an 11yard touchdown run. However, Isaac Rogers pushed the extrapoint attempt wide left, keeping Central ahead 6-0 with 10:13 remaining in the period.
The next Central score also was set up by the defense as senior lineman Tyler Busch made a fumble recovery at the Canadian 40 with 9:44 remaining in the quarter.
Just 32 seconds later, Lee connected with Cade Tucker on a 40-yard TD pass. Rogers had his PAT blocked, keeping Central on top 12-0 with 9:12 left in the period.
After stopping the Cougars (1-7-1, 0-7) on their next drive, the Tigers, thanks to a 32-yard pass play from Lee to Rogers, ended the ensuing drive in the end zone, thanks to Lee hitting Tucker on a 19-yard touchdown pass with 1:58 left in the quarter. This time, Central decided to go for two points, and got them, as Lee hit Tucker in the end zone for a 20-0 lead after one period.
The Cougars’ ensuing drive, which went into the early stages of the second quarter, was methodically moving down field, even getting into the red zone. However, that’s when the Tigers made another fumble recovery, this time at the Central 11 with 9:37 left before halftime, to thwart the Cougars.
At this point, the Tigers slowly but surely began putting their reserves in the game.
The Tigers cashed in the takeaway with an electric 71-yard ramble by Nathan Vann. Braxin Goodson, now playing quarterback, hit Mitchell on the two-point conversion to increase Central’s advantage to 28-0 with 6:58 left in the first half.
At this point to end the first half, a running clock was instituted.
With 40 seconds left in the first half, Goodson hit Ryker Miller on a 46-yard TD pass. Vann was stopped on the twopoint conversion run, but Central was comfortably ahead 34-0.
Going against mostly Central’s second-string defense, the Cougars ended the half with a 65yard touchdown pass on the final play of the first half. After a successful two-point conversion, Central enjoyed a 34-8 halftime lead.
The final TD on the night for the Tigers came with 8:38 left in the third quarter when Bo Locust connected with Goodson on a 16-yard touchdown pass. Locust ran in the two-point conversion for a 42-8 lead after three periods.
“Braxin Goodson, Nathan Vann and Ryker Miller came in and made plays,” Thompson said. “Everybody else who came in did a great job. (Having) a roster of 45 kids, and getting to show what they can do, was awesome for me.”
On the ensuing Canadian drive, Central’s defensive reserves were able to record the Tigers’ fourth fumble recovery of the night as Dakota Jackson recovered a loose ball at the Central 10-yard line with nine seconds remaining in the quarter as the Cougars tried to get into the end zone.
When the fourth quarter commenced, so, too, did another running clock to end the game.
The Cougars got into the end zone for the last time as an 11-man team — as Canadian will return to 8-man football for at least the next two seasons — with a 5-yard TD run and a successful two-point conversion with 4:34 left in the game.
For the game, Lee rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown, while passing for 78 yards — with 59 off those yards coming on his two TD pass to Tucker. Goodson had 60 yards rushing, hauled in Locust’s 16yard touchdown pass, and was 2-for-2 passing for 50 yards — with 46 of those coming on his 46-yard TD pass to Miller. Vann rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Miller led the way with four tackles, Busch had three tackles and a fumble recovery, Mitchell had two tackles and a fumble recovery and Jackson had a fumble recovery.
Now, it’s time for the Tigers to begin focusing on their Class A openinground playoff opponent, which will be the fourthplace team out of District A-7, the Quapaw Wildcats, at 7 p.m. Friday at Tiger Stadium. Thompson was pretty pleased with how his Tigers did in their “tune-up” for the playoffs in Thursday night’s home victory over Canadian.
“It went great,” he said. “We played a clean football game. We didn’t have a lot of penalties. I liked what I saw out of our guys. I liked what I saw from the upperclassmen that were in there in the first quarter. Going into this week, that was big for us. We needed that.”