CHS valiant in defeat

Published 10:29 am Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The third-seeded Central High School varsity football team saw its season end at No. 2 William Campbell High School in the Region 1B semifinals Friday for the second year in a row, but the Chargers’ growth was clearly illustrated in the contrast between the final scores. The Generals won 45-12 in 2017 but escaped with a 27-24 victory on Friday.

“I would loved to have won the game, but to go out and give it everything you got like (our) guys did, you can’t feel bad for yourself or the program because you’ve got those guys who busted their butts,” Central Head Coach Will Thomas said. “I’m just proud of them.”

The outcome of the game still hung in the balance in the waning moments of the fourth quarter.

“We went for it on 4th-and-1,” Thomas said. “We were probably on about our 15, and we didn’t get it. So, we turned it over on downs, and they made a first down. I didn’t have any more timeouts, so…”

Reflecting on what his team did better, specifically, to make the semifinal showdown so much more competitive this year, Thomas pointed to tackling, noting the Chargers allowed far fewer second chances.

“They’re a spread team, which they put you in a lot of one-on-one situations where you’ve got to make a tackle,” he said, “but I thought our tackling had come along so well and a lot of it because we emphasized that at the beginning of the year really heavy, and a lot of it is our guys were just more athletic and bigger and stronger than they were at this point last year. So that was huge, just making tackles and being in the right place at the right time. We had a simple game plan and really simple schemes that we used, and they really followed them this year, so I think that was a big deal too.”

Central junior fullback Daquan “Lee Man Lee” Lee finished with 17 carries for 155 yards, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion reception.

“He had a big game on offense,” Thomas said, “and T’zion and Woody had big games on offense. Ben had some big runs at quarterback …”

Junior running back T’zion Wilkerson had 19 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown, junior running back Khalil Wood recorded 16 carries for 55 yards, and junior quarterback Ben Anthony gained 37 yards on four rushes.

“Defensively, Dawson Bishop probably played the best game I’ve ever seen him play,” Thomas said of the Chargers senior defensive tackle, who finished with five tackles, including two solo tackles and one for a loss. “They were illegally chop blocking him, which they never called, and he would fight through it and made just some great plays.”

The coach praised junior defensive end Kawonte Ragsdale, who led the team with 10 tackles, including three solo and two for a loss, and senior linebacker Geontra Ragsdale, who registered seven tackles, including one solo. Also drawing praise were senior linebacker Jackson Dalton and junior defensive back Trey Patterson.

After starting the season 1-3, the young Chargers finished 7-5.