Tigers build confidence at jamboree

Saturday, August 23, 2008

FARMINGTON — If things don't go well, preseason jamborees can be shrugged off as a building block.

But when things do go well ...

"It was a big weight off our shoulders," Central senior running back Cantrell Andrews said about the Tigers' lone touchdown drive Friday night.

"I think," added Central first-year coach Rich Payne, "it is critical for a ballclub that hasn't had a lot of success — and I don't mean it in a bad way — but you want to come out here with some amount of success against these teams."

The Tigers, who were 2-8 last season in the end of a nine-year run for Lawrence Brookins, managed to play St. Clair even in the second set after giving up two touchdowns and failing to get a first down against Poplar Bluff.

The three teams participated in the first of two jamborees Friday night on the artificial turf at Farmington High School.

Central's starting offense was limited to 15 yards on 13 plays against Poplar Bluff, a SEMO Conference rival.

But in the scrimmage with St. Clair, the Tigers responded to the Bulldogs' touchdown with a 70-yard touchdown drive.

Senior John Ritter ran for a first down on third-and-3 near midfield, sophomore quarterback Andrew Williams connected with sophomore tight end Zach Boerboom on a 41-yard pass play, and Andrews carried into the end zone two plays later.

"I just think, the way we marched down the field, coming off of Poplar Bluff stopping us, it felt good," Andrews said. "Everyone did their job for us to score. I have to give it up to the offensive line. If there's no line, there's no me. As hard as they work at their job, I'm going to have to work as hard to do my job."

Andrews, who figures to be Central's workhorse this season, finished the night with 25 yards on 11 carries. He had 15 yards against St. Clair, but was shut down by Poplar Bluff.

Williams, who completed just the one pass in seven attempts, was 0-for-3 against the Mules.

"We came out a little tentative against Poplar Bluff," Andrews said. "It was mainly first-game jitterbugs.

"The defense did a good job."

Payne agreed.

"On defense, we did what we were supposed to do responsibility-wise," he said. "They got one in the end zone but it came on their 10th or 11th play, so they had to put together a good little drive."

Kerey Smith scored on a 1-yard run for the Mules. When the second teams took the field, sophomore Greg Coble broke off a 70-yard touchdown run against Central.

St. Clair scored on an 18-yard pass play from Brett Jones to Kevin Lashley on third-and-10.

Boerboom had a sack as he and senior Rickien Russell put some pressure on St. Clair's spread offense in the second scrimmage.

"We're a little young in some spots and thin in some spots," Payne said. "We have to have them focus on every down, every snap, every play. That's the way this game is played."

Central opens the season Friday against Parkway North at Lindenwood University.

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