CENTRAL - The Cenla Christian Academy Lions jumped out to an early lead and never looked back as they earned a 28-6 season-opening win over the Central Private Rebels.
“We made some mistakes,” said Central Private coach Mike Longmire. “You have to give credit to Cenla. They had less guys than us and were tired, but they executed and put more points on the board.”
It was a sloppy game in multiple ways with an early thunderstorm delaying the game for 30 minutes. The two teams combined for seven turnovers and 28 penalties. The bulk of those penalties came from the Lions who totaled nearly 200 penalty yards.
“When you run wide a lot, you seem to get a lot of block in the backs,” said Cenla Christian coach Kevin Vanek. “It definitely hurt some of our drives. Unfortunately, it’s something I have grown accustomed to when you run an offense like this.”
Cenla Christian scored the first points midway through the opening quarter when senior quarterback Graham Kelly hit David Ober for a 72-yard touchdown pass. On Cenla’s following possession, Kelly connected with Jamar O’Connor in the end zone. Two missed 2-point tries set the score at 12-0.
“We knew from playing them last year that they were going to stack the box,” Vanek said. “Our receivers did a good job in finding space and Kelly did a good job of getting the ball to them.”
But while the Lions did most of their damage with the pass, they controlled the pace on the ground. Led by Jacob Thomas’ 107 yards, Cenla Christian gashed the Rebels’ defense for 208 rushing yards on 37 attempts.
Cenla had its chances, but did not take advantage after Kyle Blackburn threw three interceptions before the half. Longmire turned to backup Luke Fryoux in the second half.
“Offensively, we struggled a little bit,” Longmire said. “We had a couple of chances to put some early points on the board but we gave it away with an interception.”
After the Lions added a safety, Fryoux gave Central Private some life, finding receiver Lance Wicker over the middle for 15 yards to convert a fourth-and-long. A few plays later, Fryoux and Wicker again connected for an 11-yard touchdown. Cenla Christian blocked the point after, but the Rebels were only down eight with more than nine minutes to go in the game.
That’s as close as they got though, as the Lions answered right back. Kelly hit Ober again and he ran for 48 yards before he fumbled it into the end zone. O’Connor saved the day though by falling on it for the touchdown.
After Central Private fumbled inside the red zone, Kelly took a bootleg 65 yards for a score to seal the Rebels’ fate.
Sophomore running back Ryan Bowman led Central Private with 58 yards rushing on four carries. He also had 32 yards receiving .