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December 20, 2014

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Centennial keeps rivalry trophy another year

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Justin M. Bowen

Centennial quarterback Chris Henderson drops back for a pass at Friday night’s game.

Centennial VS Shadow Ridge

The winner of the Centennial vs. Shadow Ridge game gets the trophy for the year. Launch slideshow »

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Although playoff hopes weren't on the line in Friday night's game between Shadow Ridge (2-7) and Centennial (3-6), the Jim Marsh Cup -- the rivalry trophy kept by the winning team each year -- provided plenty of motivation as the visiting Bulldogs beat the Mustangs, 21-12, on their home field.

"This game is just a testament to our kids," Centennial coach George Baker said. "We had a similar season last year and we were hoping to change that and make the playoffs this year. But that didn't happen, the football gods didn't smile on us. But this is a testament to how much these kids love the game and just want to come out and play football. I'm proud to be their coach tonight."

The Bulldogs benefited from a ground attack led by sophomore running back Brandon Wright and senior fullback Scott Hamilton. The two used a combination of speed and power running to keep the Mustangs' defense out of rhythm. Wright finished with 110 yards on 18 carries and one touchdown. Hamilton gained 86 yards on 16 carries.

"They're a little bit of thunder and lighting," Baker said. "You bring the big man [Hamilton] up the middle then you break Brandon off the corner. We had some miscues, but we overcame them and our running backs did a great job. I'm very happy with their performance."

The Mustangs owned the momentum after capping off the third quarter with a 71-yard touchdown run by junior Zach Hill that gave them a 12-7 lead. The Bulldogs responded on the opening drive of the fourth quarter, taking the lead on a 9-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chris Henderson to Wright out of the backfield. Shadow Ridge's shot at a comeback ended early when it fumbled on its fifth play of the following drive.

"You can't make mistakes," said Mustangs coach Gabe Gledhill. "We shot ourselves in the foot a couple times. It's hard -- every week these guys come prepared to win football games and things just don't go their way."

The biggest difference in the two teams emerged in the fourth quarter as the Bulldogs used a dimensional offense. In addition to the ground game, Henderson completed 10 of 15 pass attempts for 90 yards and broke a 23-yard run on the game-winning drive.

"We've been changing things week-to-week, sometimes coming out in an I-formation, other times in a spread formation," Baker said. "You know, all those offensive weapons don't mean a thing unless you get that W, and we got it tonight and that's all that matters."

The Mustangs were nearly able to answer with a dynamic performance from Hill, who finished with 165 yards on 17 carries and broke the 1,000-yard mark for the season.

"It was a heartbreaker," Hill said. "We really wanted this win. It's a rivalry game. Centennial brought it tonight we kept coming at them. Yes, it was a tough loss but we'll see them again next year."

Until then, the Jim Marsh Cup will stay with Centennial for only the second year since its inception in 2004. The Bulldogs were more than willing to hang on to it again.

"Feels good we kept it on the sideline the whole game," Baker said. "We're happy to be taking it back home with us."

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