Tigers quarterback had game fit for a king against Warriors

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Slattery connected on 13 straight passes during Central's homecoming victory.

It's good to be king.

Central senior Blake Slattery picked up that title Friday night at the school's homecoming dance.

But he said Saturday it's even better to be the quarterback who completed 13 consecutive passes and helped direct the Tigers to a 34-10 victory against St. Charles West earlier Friday night.

Slattery overcame an interception on his first passing attempt and then two dropped passes as the Tigers fell behind 3-0. He didn't throw another incompletion the rest of the night, hitting 13 of 16 for 208 yards and a touchdown.

"I didn't even know about that until the end of the game," Slattery said. "It's pretty incredible."

While Slattery at times played pitch and catch with many of the five receivers he hit, not every throw was on target.

Sophomore George Hamilton took an underthrown pass from a defender for a 36-yard touchdown play that made the score 27-3.

On the Tigers' final scoring drive, senior Eric Ennis caught a pass that was tipped up in the air by a West defender on a 22-yard gain.

"George is so big and athletic, he will catch almost anything you throw at him," Slattery said. "Our running backs work as wide receivers, too."

Slattery took his yardage total for the season to 694 yards.

"He works so hard," Central coach Lawrence Brookins said. "He had a full Legion baseball schedule and he still made it to all the team events and did a lot of summer work. He was one of the guys who made sacrifices to help themselves in football."

Slattery will face a different challenge this week against Jackson in the 100th meeting between the two schools. Central carries a 2-3 record while defending SEMO North champion Jackson is 4-1. Carl Gross' team brings a punishing defense and ground-oriented offense.

"Hopefully, we can use our speed and be a little quicker than they are," Slattery said.

Brookins said the game may be like a finesse boxer against a power puncher.

"Jackson is so strong," Brookins said. "Carl's lines have always been good-sized kids, and that's your heartbeat.

"I think we do have an advantage in speed."

The contest could present a challenge in stamina for Slattery, who also plays defensive back. "If we're doing what we're supposed to be doing, it's not too bad," he said.

With a second straight win heading into the meeting, the Tigers have confidence.

"We'll be ready," said senior running back Hykeem Hammonds, who had 136 yards on 19 carries and three touchdowns Friday. "We just have to get better on defense and get ready to play the run a little more."

Woeful West

Central's homecoming opponent, St. Charles West, fell to 1-4. The Class 4 program had just 27 players dressed out.

And the Warriors' chances for a win were hampered when Jacob Houska fumbled in the open field, 20 yards away from completing a 94-yard pass play that would've put them ahead.

"When that happened," Brookins said, "I felt a little sorry for their coaching staff. That could've changed the game."

Better defense

Central surrendered only one touchdown Friday, in the final 2 minutes, one week after a 24-6 win against St. Charles.

"We're having good practices, and our defense is really improving," Hammonds said.

Added Brookins: "I've been pleased with the defense of Trent Williams and Anthony Wilson. They both were keys in our wins tonight and last week against St. Charles. What you do in the offensive and defensive lines makes a difference."

The rivalry

Brookins wants his team to stay loose this week.

"Whether it's the 100th game or the first, I've always felt our kids didn't always handle that arena the best they could have," he said. "We've tried to take the pressure off their shoulders. We told them not to get caught up in the hype and other things that go on.

"It's high school football, enjoy yourself. They should look forward to the opportunity to play a good high school football team in Jackson."

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