Central High Chargers eye No. 1 seed in Region 2A

Published 10:17 pm Monday, October 23, 2023

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For the fourth game in a row, the Central High Chargers took care of business on the gridiron, defeating Cumberland 48-6 last Friday to improve to 8-1 overall on the season.

The celebration wasn’t limited to the field on homecoming. Athletic Director Wallace Owen, who’s also the defensive coordinator for the football team, was honored before the game. That was one of the highlights for what tends to be a stressful week for Chargers head coach Will Thomas.

“Homecoming week is one of those that I loathe because of the distractions that can come,” Thomas noted. “That being said, it was a big crowd there, a big show, we won and we honored Coach Owen, which was great. He coached me in J.V. and has been my assistant for 16 years since I’ve been here. He’s a loyal guy that would do anything for me. We really enjoyed it and it was a good time.”

In terms of the game on the field, the Chargers had little to no trouble against the winless Dukes. They scored five touchdowns to take a 34-0 lead into half-time.

“It was a pretty comfortable lead going into half-time. The defense played pretty well I thought. Seth Bishop and Conner Buchanan really had good games defensively,” indicated Thomas, who was asked about a running clock in the second half even with the margin not yet meeting the customary 35-point rule that prompts it and obliged with the request due to the number of bodies being low for his opponent.

“Cumberland had a lot of guys out. Some [coaches] might not want to run the clock, but I didn’t mind it because of the circumstances where they were limited in players. I don’t want anybody else getting hurt, especially us because we’re not super deep either.”

Crunching numbers

As a team, the Chargers ran for 343 yards and six touchdowns on 26 attempts. Connor Mattox led the way with 132 yards and 3 TD’s on 10 attempts. Amarion Moore also went over 100 yards on the ground with six rushes totaling 113 yards and twice found the end zone.

Twenty different defenders registered a tackle with Mattox, Seth Bishop and Antonio Jones recording seven total stops apiece.

To close out the regular season, Central High will make a trip to James River District foe Amelia, a team they’ve beaten four straight times after back-to-back losses in 2017 and 2018. One of those wins was a 56-50 triple-overtime thriller in 2019.

“It’s not going to get any easier for us because Amelia will play us tough,” believes Thomas, who sees both the pros and cons of having a bye week before the playoffs as it yields the long-debated rest vs. rust discussion.

“It gets you off your routine and we’re routine-driven folks. It might sound crazy saying this having already played nine games, but I think we’re much better than we were in Week 1, Week 2 or Week 3,” Thomas added. “And I think we still can get better.”

Central High Chargers eye playoffs

For now, the Central High Chargers are focused on finishing on a high note and getting to 9-1 overall, where an opportunity to gain the top seed in Region 2A is a real possibility. If Poquoson (6-2) – which was slated No. 1 in last week’s Region 2A power ratings – slips up against Lafayette (6-2) or Bruton (5-3), then Central High will likely have home-field advantage through regionals and not have to go on the road until the state playoffs.

That’s a much different contrast from when they were in Region 1B with 10-time State Champ

Riverheads, which has knocked them out of the playoffs three times since 2015.

“There should be motivation and hunger to want to play in front of the home fans,” Thomas said. “To me, the best game we played all year was at home against Buckingham, which we lost. We play better at home.”