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October 22, 2014

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high school football:

Centennial’s defense plays well while offense piles up points late in sloppy win at Durango

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Centennial football players Coby Newton, Chris Johnson, Trajan Pili and Austin Turley Thursday, July 26, 2012.

Prep Sports Now

Are Centennial, Canyon Springs in the elite?

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There are topics aplenty on this week's episode after an eventful slate of games. Centennial and Canyon Springs, most notably, presented arguments for being included with the best teams in town. Are Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer buying the Bulldogs and Pioneers? Listen in on the debate, a discussion on touchdown celebrations and a breakdown of this week's games.

The final score in Centennial High’s 31-0 victory at Durango High on Friday night may be indicative of how much better shape the Bulldogs are in at this stage, but it certainly doesn’t reflect how much better they played. That category was much closer.

In a sloppy contest full of penalties and more fumbled snaps than some teams will have in a full season, the result was still up for grabs with less than 7 minutes to play as Centennial (2-0) clung to a 10-0 lead. Really, it was the Bulldogs who, despite playing with a lead most of the game, were often on the ropes.

Durango (1-1) ran about 20 more plays than Centennial and controlled the clock with a two-headed attack at quarterback as both Brett Neighbors and Anthony Collins took snaps in relief of starter Scott Martinez, who is done for the year after tearing an ACL last week at Bonanza High.

Their inexperience showed on several occasions, especially in the second and third quarters when the Trailblazers consistently moved into Bulldog territory only to come away empty-handed thanks to a plethora of mistakes.

“We were able to move the ball, but we got in good field position and then shot ourselves in the foot over and over again,” Durango coach Matt Gerber said. “Against a good team like this you can’t do that. We held with them for a long time continuing to make mistakes, but eventually it catches up with you.”

Centennial got on the board in the first quarter with senior Blake Frischknecht’s 47-yard field goal that may have been good from five yards farther out. Junior running back Lantz Worthington bumped it to 10-0 with a 10-yard scamper on the final play of the first quarter, but those drives were the exception for the Bulldogs in the first three quarters. Most of the time the offensive line struggled to create enough space for starting running back Coby Newton, who would eventually break through and finish with 96 yards and a score on 20 carries.

Their drives were short and, because of that, put a lot of pressure on the Bulldogs’ defense. Luckily for Centennial coach Leon Evans, the defense was up to the task.

“They carried us all night,” Evans said. “We turn the ball over, and they come back with a sudden stop and get us the ball back. They responded all night long.”

In one second-quarter sequence, Durango recovered a fumble inside Centennial’s 40 before eventually turning it over on downs. The very next play Centennial fumbled again and gave the ball right back. The Bulldogs’ defense only had one play to rest, yet they came back out and held strong.

Of course, Durango helped them out with false starts and other mistakes that will have Gerber wanting to avoid the game film altogether. Honestly, nobody left the stadium feeling particularly good about what occurred Friday night.

“We didn’t show up in the first half. We shut them down, but that wasn’t enough,” said Centennial receiver/defensive back Deontae Gilkey, who had two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown that made it 24-0. “We should have countered with more intensity. We should have flat-out beat them.”

Newton seemingly put the game out of reach with a one-yard score with 6:44 to play, but that turned out to be only the beginning. Once he broke through, the Durango walls came down. Soon after was Gilkey’s pick six and then a 51-yard scoring scamper for Worthington, who finished with 75 yards and the two touchdowns on five carries.

Several of Durango’s key guys were playing offense, defense and special teams, and Evans’ game plan was to run those players ragged. Eventually, it worked.

“We wanted to make guys run sideline-to-sideline all night,” Evans said. “Conditioning won out.”

While Durango looks to regroup next week at Basic High, Centennial is going to need every bit of that defensive effort when it travels to play Shadow Ridge High and dual-threat quarterback Bakari Smith.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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  1. Glad to read the game was a lot closer than the score indicates. Sounds like Centennial is the better team but it was a tight game until a few balls bounced their way.

    Makes Liberty vs Palo on Thursday Night Lights more meaningful. If Liberty drops the game Centennial is clear #2.. If Liberty beats Palo and impresses then they're still #2