Central pursues first win at home

Friday, September 10, 2004

Central's football team ran into what it thinks will likely be one of its toughest opponents this season in an opening loss to Eureka.

"We might have played the team that could win the Class 5 championship," Central coach Lawrence Brookins said of Eureka. "We might not play a team that strong physically and that sound technically until late in the year."

While the score and statistics in Central's loss may have heavily favored Eureka, Brookins said he saw plenty of positive signs heading into today's 7 p.m. meeting with St. Charles West at Houck Field House.

"We did some good things in that ball game," Brookins said.

Among the positives was a 12-play opening drive which ended in a blocked field goal. Sophomore quarterback Blake Slattery made some strong passes down field early in the game, connecting on his first four passes for 63 yards. That drive followed a defensive stop by the Tigers deep inside their own territory.

"There were moments throughout the game we did things right and didn't show fatigue," Brookins said.

The fatigue factor did hit the Tigers late and was something the Tigers addressed early in the week. Fatigue up front may be lessened by the addition of senior lineman Brad Gaines, who has battled knee problems throughout the first few weeks of school. Gaines is the Tigers' biggest lineman at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds.

Brookins said with several of his players beginning to heal, and an enthusiastic attitude during practices, the Tigers could be on the rise.

"I think that can only lead to bigger and better things for us," he said.

The Tigers will try to take that step in the right direction against a St. Charles West team coming off a big win against Timberland. The Warriors rushed for 309 yards on 43 carries in a 40-13 victory. Jamie Luckett led the Warrior running attack with eight rushes for 109 yards. Michael Ford added 84 yards on five carries.

After giving up more than 400 yards rushing to Eureka, Central will have to prove it can stop the run. Central has had good success against St. Charles' wishbone attack in the past, winning the last four meetings between the teams.

Brookins said the key for his team will be to limit mistakes.

"Just being clean in the way we play the game," he said. "Fewer mistakes, don't shoot yourself in the foot.

"We need to just play sound football and have fun playing sound football. Each week I don't worry about the other teams, I worry about ourselves."

While the Tigers' game against St. Charles is far from a must-win, Central has not started a season 0-2 since going 1-9 season in Brookins' first year as head coach in 1999.

"A lot of our area teams came out with wins, although I think we definitely had the toughest sister to play," Brookins said. "I felt a little bad we were one of the few without a win."

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