Welcome to the Party: Zachary offense explodes in win over Central

The Nov. 1 football game between the area rivals Central and Zachary provided plenty of backdrop and importance in a key District 4/5A matchup.

Central coach Sid Edwards coached ZHS coach David Brewerton in elementary school and at Catholic High and gave Brewerton his first coaching job at Redemptorist.

The last district loss for the Broncos (16 games in the distant past) dates back to October 2016, when the Wildcats would defeat the Broncos on a muddy field 20-19 at Central. Senior quarterback Keilon Brown was a freshman in 2016 and a junior in Zachary’s 2018 victory over Central 49-17 on a similarly wet Central field.

Central entered the battle with a 6-1 record after losing in the closing minutes to Walker the previous week and relied heavily on the running of quarterback Sam Kennerson and running back Isaiah Rankins. Zachary would ride into Central with a 5-2 mark that included five straight wins including three in District 4/5A. During the five-game winning streak the Broncos have relied on streaky offensive performance, strong defense and sound special teams.

Heavy rain on Oct. 30 would provide a similar landscape for the 2019 game as the Central field showed little green and plenty of brown. Conventional football logic would tell you to expect the home team and the team that ran the ball to have the edge — advantage Central. What was not expected was an explosion for the Broncos offense that resulted in a 55-35 victory with the Broncos gaining 542 yards of total offense.

On the offense performance, Brewerton beamed, “Welcome to the party — glad to see you again.”

Senior quarterback Keilon Brown was electrifying through the air (16-21 for 307 yards and three touchdowns) and on the ground (13 carries for 126 yards and three touchdowns). “I’ve been waiting to see that kind of offense from us for a while now,” Brewerton said.

Brown spread the ball around with touchdown passes to junior Kenson Tate and seniors Jayden Williams and Chris Hilton.

Much of the success of the offense can be attributed to strong and physical offensive line play. Unofficial stats from a query of the starting offensive line indicate that senior Dylan Landry led the offense with 11 “pancake” blocks followed closely by junior Matthew Clayton with nine. Senior running back RJ Allen closed the scoring late in the fourth quarter with a 44-yard run. Yes, the Broncos outrushed the Wildcats too (235 – 148).

Coach Brewerton was pleased with the overall effort but focused on improvements on the defensive side where the Broncos failed to get off the field on several third down opportunities due to missed assignments in the secondary or penalties. The defense was able to sack Kennerson six times and junior Elijah Hayes was a one-man wrecking crew making tackles from sideline to sideline and constantly harassing Kennerson.

The attention quickly turns to the Nov. 8 home regular season and district closer against Walker. Coach Brewerton emphasized to the team that “The win over Central insured you an opportunity to play for a third district title next week at home against Walker.” The Walker game will start at 7 p.m. with the recognition of seniors prior to kickoff.

The District Championship game is also the last opportunity for the Broncos to improve their power ranking. At the time of writing the Broncos are a seven seed. A win over Walker, currently a 10 seed, could improve the Broncos seeding and thus opportunities for multiple playoff home games.

Warren Brady covers sports for The Plainsman. He can be contacted at zachary@theadvocate.com.