Chargers fall in regional semifinals

Published 12:06 pm Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Central High School’s varsity football team was hoping for a much better concluding chapter to its 2017 campaign, but the No. 3 Chargers fell 45-12 to host No. 2 William Campbell High School in the Class 1 Region B semifinals Friday, cementing a rare losing season for Central.

“It’s the worst we’ve played all year,” Chargers Head Coach Will Thomas said.

Central’s most lopsided loss of the season prior to Friday’s 33-point defeat was a 27-7 result Sept. 8 against visiting Goochland High School.

Thomas said the Generals (9-2) “out-played us, out-coached us, …”

“We couldn’t stop them defensively, and they were physical,” he said Monday. “… Their defense beat our offense up. We couldn’t move the ball. We completed a pass right there at first, but yards were pretty scarce (Friday). We were fighting for feet, fighting for inches, so hats off to them. They earned it. I just wish we could have gave them a little bit better game.”

He said the loss hits particularly hard when thinking about his seniors who have played on the varsity team for three years and who were out on the field Friday night for the last time — offensive/defensive lineman Jackson Parsons, running back/defensive back Darryl Jones and tight end/linebacker Ben Spencer.

“You hate it for them,” Thomas said. “You blame yourself. They put a lot of time and effort into it. They give a lot to this, and you hate it because you just want to do more for them, help them go out in a better way than that.”

The Chargers were forced to play without standout sophomore running back/linebacker T’zion Wilkerson, who suffered a sprained ankle early in Central’s regional first-round matchup Nov. 10.

“He tried to give it a go on Thursday, but when you have to cut on that foot and take off on that foot, it’s tough for him,” Thomas said.

This meant other ball-carriers needed to step up. Sophomore fullback Khalil Wood scored one of Central’s touchdowns, while junior running back Dontae Crowder scored the other.

The Chargers finished the season with a 5-7 overall record.

“It’s the first losing season we’ve had in nine years, so it’s disappointing,” said Thomas, who just completed his 10th year as head coach of the team.

He noted that “we just couldn’t get it all together. It was like we were fighting — all of us were fighting — to get on the right page, and we just never could. We had brief signs that we were getting there, and something would happen. And then compound that with the injuries.”

Central lost to season-ending injury senior defensive back/running back Khamell Roberts, who Thomas said was the team’s best defensive player.

“He worked his butt off in the weight room in the offseason,” the coach said. “But you’re talking about somebody with almost zero experience coming in, and he ended up being really good for us. And then to lose him, and then you lose the senior that had played for three years (for varsity).”

That senior was defensive back/running back John McGrath.

And add to this the loss of Wilkerson for most of the playoffs.

“That hurts, man, but still, good teams overcome stuff like that,” Thomas said. “You find somebody else, the next man up, and when you’ve got 21, 22 varsity players, that’s not always easy.”