Center tops Oak Grove to move to district final

By Joe Caronia PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: October 29, 2016 - 12:45 AM

Oak Grove couldn’t stop Center’s big plays Friday.

As a result, the Panthers finished the season 5-6 after a 28-8 loss to the host Yellowjackets in a Class 3 District 7 semifinal.

Center head coach Bryan DeLong said his team was going to try to strike with a big play early.

“On offense we want to try and get some big plays against them. A big play in game like this can be demoralizing,” DeLong said before the game.

The Yellowjackets wasted no time, striking with that big play early. On the first play from scrimmage, running back Norvell Trent took a pitch and ran to the near sideline. He then stopped and threw across the field to Jeremiah Wilson, who scampered 69 yards for the score.

“Coach (Adam) Nichols and the offensive staff made a great call,” DeLong said. “We started many games with that ‘48 Rocket’ (play) with Norvell (Trent), and defenses have been reacting to it all year. A couple of days ago earlier, Coach Nichols asked me, what do you think about starting with that play. I said, you have been calling great plays all year if you want to start with it, go ahead. Good call.”

When the Panthers’ drive stalled and they failed to convert on fourth-and-four, the Yellowjackets struck again quickly. On their second play of the drive, Rachaad White took a misdirection handoff and went right down the middle for a 46-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

With 5:55 left in the second quarter, White caught a short pass from Amaun Ryan and evaded Oak Grove defenders for a 49-yard score and a 21-0 advantage.

The Panthers held the ball for more than half of the third quarter, but again turned the ball over on downs.

On third-and-one, Ryan pitched to Trent, who raced 69 yards for his second touchdown of the game and a 28-0 lead.

The Panthers refused to go quietly. Methodically they drove 71 yards, and scored when Kenton Wilhoit plunged in from a yard out. Oak Grove quarterback Jaxon Althaus kept the snap and converted the two-point run to make it 28-8.

DeLong credited his defense for shutting down Oak Grove’s offense and not allowing the Panthers any big plays.

“The Panthers got some 7-, 8-yard runs, but we didn’t give up any long ones,” he said. “They would get a couple of first downs and then we would get a negative play and put them in second-and-long, third-and-long, and that makes it tough for them to move the ball. (Marquae Richardson) and (John Taylor Jr.), in the middle, they don’t get a lot of credit because of our skill guys get all the credit, but they can play.”

Center remained undefeated at 11-0 and will play host next week to the 9-2 Clinton Cardinals, a 49-12 winner over Hogan Prep, in the district final next week. Center beat Clinton earlier this season 47-14.