Central charges to regional semis

Published 12:18 pm Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The No. 3-seeded Central High School varsity football team advanced past the first round of the Region 1B playoffs Thursday like it did last year — by defeating visiting No. 6 Cumberland County High School in lopsided fashion.

The Chargers topped the struggling, winless Dukes 35-0 on Thursday to reach the regional semifinals in which Central (7-4) will visit No. 2 William Campbell High School (6-4) this Friday at 7 p.m.

Chargers Head Coach Will Thomas felt good about his team’s overall performance against Cumberland.

“Kids stepped it up,” he said. “Old Woody, Khalil Wood, man, has just been dynamite.”

Wood finished Thursday’s game with 11 carries for 181 yards and three touchdowns.

“Trey Patterson had some good runs in there, stepped it up when we needed him,” Thomas said.

Patterson gained 53 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.

Referring to Daquan Lee by his nickname, Thomas said, “Lee Man Lee stepped it up, had a couple good (runs), even Tae Ragsdale.”

Lee recorded six carries for 58 yards and a score, and Kawonte Ragsdale registered three rushes for 25 yards.

It was not a perfect outing for Central, though, including another fumble lost.

“We were just lethargic coming out, which we’ve been like that all week,” Thomas said.

He noted the team had an awful week of practice leading up to the game for a variety of reasons, including weather.

“We only had a day of rest, we only had Sunday off because we had a game Saturday,” he said. “Monday was nasty, Tuesday was nasty. We finally get out here on Wednesday to practice, and then we play a day earlier. I don’t know, I don’t like taking anybody lightly … We beat these guys the first time, and it’s hard to get (our players) motivated.”

On Sept. 21 during the regular season, the Chargers defeated the host Dukes 48-6.

Central was also practicing last week and playing without some key players.

“We’ve got a bunch of injuries,” Thomas said. “A lot of kids didn’t play tonight.”

The Chargers’ run game lacked some familiar leaders as T’zion Wilkerson participated in only a few plays and Darien Jones did not dress Thursday. Both are limited by ankle injuries.

Injury also limited starting left tackle Garrett Williams and sidelined starting right tackle Khalil Moore.

Thomas said he hopes to have all of these players back this week to face the Generals, but that is looking less likely for Moore.

“I don’t know if we’re going to get him back, so we built a little depth tonight, got a kid to play, which is good,” the coach said, referring to Chris Daniel. “He’s a senior. It’s (the) first game he’s started in his career, and it was on his last home field, so that was awesome, I thought. Chris means a lot to us.”

On defense Thursday, Wood led Central with 12 total tackles. Ragsdale produced eight tackles, including two solo and one for a loss, he caused a fumble, and on special teams, he had an onside kick recovery. Jackson Dalton had seven tackles, including two solo, and Patterson added six tackles, also including two solo. Dawson Bishop had a fumble recovery to go with three tackles.

Continuing the postseason path they took last year, the Chargers will now once again visit William Campbell, though they will work and hope for a different result than last year’s 45-12 loss.

On Aug. 31 during the 2018 regular season, the Generals defeated Central 41-21.

“We’re going to have our work cut out for us,” Thomas said.

He did acknowledge how his team has grown.

“I do think we’re better, but I’m sure they are too,” he said. “They probably weren’t hitting on all cylinders when they played us. They beat some good teams, played some really good teams, so it’s going to be tough.”

Important William Campbell players to watch include sophomore quarterback Jeremiah Smith and the dynamic brotherly wide receiving duo of 6-foot- 3-inch seniors Nikia Peerman and Noah Peerman.

The Generals pass the ball a lot, “which is something that we struggle with sometimes … our pass defense,” Thomas said. “(We) played well tonight, I thought. We had kind of adjusted to it and were ready for it.”