Home field disadvantage

Descending from the huge win against Fort Zumwalt South a week ago, the Central football team played a close match against the Parkway South Patriots, but lost their first home game with a score of 28-22.

The first quarter consisted of the Spartans and Patriots pushing each other across the field, with each team getting preventing each other from making any significant advances toward the end zone. Some highlights of the first quarter included a punt return by senior wide receiver Justin Andrews with 4:48 remaining on the clock, along with a fumble recovery with ten seconds remaining in the first quarter by senior safety Justin Allen.

The Spartans began to make progress during the second quarter after a series of successful plays. Seven minutes into the quarter, after a number of plays which got the ball to 30 yards away from the end zone, junior quarterback Frank Davis ran the ball to the four yard line, allowing for senior running back Kendall Morris to then score a touchdown the following play. Later near the last two minutes of the quarter, the Patriots gained control of the ball and brought the ball 11 yards away from the end zone, but the Spartans managed to fend them off for the remainder of the time, bringing the score to 6-0 by the end of the first half.

The game began to gain momentum in the second half, with the Patriots upping their game against the Spartans in the third quarter. The quarter consisted of the two teams again pushing each other up and down the field, until a receiver from the Patriots was able to receive a punt from the Spartans. The receiver caught the ball performed an 80 yard dash across the field into the end zone, scoring a touchdown, which was then followed up with an extra point, making the score 7-6. The Spartans still continued to fight, and within the last two minutes of the third quarter, senior running back DeBoise Hill scored on a 44-yard run for a touchdown for the Spartans. Though they failed to follow the touchdown up with an extra point, the team still gained the lead with a score of 12-7 at the end of the third quarter.

The fourth quarter increased the intensity of the game as both the teams began to go back and forth with scoring points and making successful plays. Around nine minutes into the game, senior cornerback Courtney Bateman blocked a punt attempt from the Patriots and knocked to ball into the air. Before the ball could hit the ground, Hill made a dive toward the ball and caught it, while still managing to slide into the end zone to score a touchdown for the Spartans. Along with an extra point scored afterwards, the score was then 19-7. The Patriots quickly retaliated, receiving the ball from another kick and again managing to drive it across the field into the end zone, scoring another touchdown, but failing to score the extra point, bringing the score to 19-13 with 8:41 left in the game.

Senior offensive tackle Brendan Sullivan felt that Bateman and Hill’s play had fueled the team with adrenaline at that moment in the game, and motivated them to better throughout the game.

“I felt it brought great excitement to our team. It gave us a lot of confidence going forward,” said Sullivan. “Anytime you can score on special teams is monumental in a game.”

The Spartans continued to fight as Morris then made a 74-yard sprint towards the end zone, but managed to be stopped by one of the opposing players at the six yard line. The team’s next attempts to run the ball into the end zone for the first three downs proved unsuccessful, and which convinced the team to allow senior kicker Ben Burns to kick a successful field goal, scoring the Spartans another three points with 6:44 left in the game.

The final half quarter was where the Spartans began their downfall. After multiple attempts to prevent the Patriots from moving the ball up the field, the Patriots were able to run the ball into the end zone with 5:44 left, and brought the score to 22-20. The Patriots didn’t let up, continuing to battle the Spartans until their senior wide receiver Chris Chairs was able to catch a pass across the middle of the field from their senior quarterback Eli Erickson, then dash past the single Spartan defender covering him and make it to the end zone.

Following the play up with a two-point conversion, the Patriots sealed their victory over the Spartans with 1:01 remaining in the game, and simply fended off the Spartans long enough to end the game.

Despite the challenges the Patriots faced throughout most of the match, Parkway South Head Coach Joe Rosewell felt his team’s perseverance helped them gain the upper hand in the fourth quarter.

“Bottom line, I don’t think we ever gave up, and I don’t think Francis Howell Central gave up either, but just that spark where [we had] the kickoff return made us feel like we were back in it,” said Coach Rosewell. “Even after [Central] blocked the punt and got that touchdown, when we came back and scored on that long run, it was like our guys felt ‘Hey, we’re in this, we’re in this, we’re in this.’ I don’t think we ever got to the point where we felt like we weren’t in it.”

Although Coach Rosewell believed Parkway South’s motivation played a key factor in their win, Coach Rosewell felt like the final play was also based on a lucky opportunity that the Spartans’ defense offered to their team.

“That’s the thing, like when we were on defense right there at the end, you’re almost just holding on. It’s like ‘All right, let’s just hold on as tight as we can,’ and that was a tough thing. When we did that pass going across the middle, [and their] guys were playing man-to-man, we just had to step on [them],” said Coach Rosewell. “I mean because [they] were playing man-to-man, the other guys who were on defense were covering their guys, so our guy who caught the ball really only had to beat the one defender and he made it out to the field. So I mean that’s just kind of rolling the dice, but we hit it, and it worked [for us].”

Head Coach Todd Berck felt attention to detail was what led to the team’s loss and remains focused on fixing the teams errors for their next game against the Troy Buchanan Trojans this Friday at 7:00 p.m.

“I feel like we played really well for most of the game, but [for] a few key plays we just didn’t pay attention to detail. That was a crucial part of our game, and it’s something we’re going to have to get better at and take very, very seriously,” said Coach Berck. “We’ll reevaluate and see if we got the right guys on the field, and I think we do, but we’ll reevaluate that from film and continue to work hard and get better.”