Central football plows into win column
Jon Siemers had no doubt the Central football team would finally break through.
"We knew tonight would be the night on homecoming," said Siemers, a senior linebacker.
Siemers flashed a big smile as he spoke Thursday night.
The rest of the Tigers were just as happy after Central notched its first victory of the season, a hard-fought 26-18 decision over visiting Seckman.
After coming so close the previous week during a one-point loss to Poplar Bluff, the Tigers finally broke into the win column in a matchup of squads that entered the game 0-6.
"They played hard, just like we did," senior tailback Cantrell Andrews said. "Records don't matter when you're on the field.
"It just feels great. Like a big relief off our shoulders."
First-year Central coach Rich Payne, who took over a struggling program, lauded the Tigers after they handed him his initial triumph.
"To be 0-6, some kids would have given up. They never have," Payne said. "I told them on the field I'm extremely proud of them.
"It's a good group of kids. They're a bunch of fighters."
Andrews, despite twice spraining an ankle during the contest, rushed for three touchdowns, the longest from 11 yards out.
Andrews also had a 75-yard kickoff return late in the third quarter that set up his own 6-yard touchdown run to make it 26-12 just moments after Seckman had scored.
Andrews, who missed most of the fourth quarter after injuring the ankle a second time, also had a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown erased by a penalty.
"He's a stud," Payne said.
Junior tailback Brandon Pickens scored Central's other touchdown, on a 44-yard run in the second quarter that, with a two-point conversion run by senior fullback John Ritter, put the Tigers on top 20-6.
Pickens also intercepted a pass deep in Seckman territory late in the opening period to set up the touchdown that put Central ahead to stay, an 11-yard run by Andrews.
"We were 0-6, they were 0-6. We thought it would be a pretty good game," Pickens said. "It's a relief, and now we think we can do much better. We're going for more wins."
It took a goal-line stand by the Tigers in the closing minutes to hold off the Jaguars, who controlled the ball most of the second half after they trailed 20-6 at the intermission.
Seckman ran 40 offensive plays to just 15 for the Tigers over the final two quarters.
Starting from its 12-yard line with 6 minutes, 25 seconds left in the game, Seckman marched all the way to the Central 1, where the Jaguars faced third-and-goal.
Siemers said the Tigers figured Seckman quarterback Kyle Fisher would try to sneak for the touchdown, considering Fisher had successfully converted several short-yardage situations earlier in the contest.
But Fisher was stopped short of the goal line on consecutive sneaks, the second coming with just 1:10 left. Central then ran out the clock.
"That was huge, to have a nice goal-line stand at the end," Payne said.
Siemers proudly said he was the player who repelled Fisher's final push on fourth down, although it appeared as if a host of Tigers had the play snuffed out.
"We knew he was keeping the ball," Siemers said. "They ran that every time [in short yardage]. We finally figured it out.
"It feels good. It's a lot of weight off our shoulders."
Seckman sophomore tailback Tyler Fisher was probably the individual star of the game with 191 hard-earned yards rushing on 34 carries.
Kyle Fisher, Tyler's older brother, was also impressive as the senior passed for 184 yards out of Seckman's spread offense.
But Central, which got a combined 180 yards rushing from four players — Andrews, Pickens, Ritter and junior Ray Woldtvedt — had enough to hold off the Jaguars.
Pickens led the Tigers with 54 yards on just six carries. Andrews added 52 yards on 11 attempts. Woldtvedt had 41 yards on four carries, and Ritter contributed 33 yards on 10 attempts.
"We can build off this first win," Andrews said.
The Tigers will have the opportunity Oct. 17 when they open district play at Rockwood Summit.
Central is in a rugged district that features Eureka and Jackson as the favorites to emerge with the two playoff spots.
"It's a really tough district, but our kids will keep fighting," Payne said.
Central 26, Seckman 18
S — Tyler Fisher 15 run (run failed)
C — Cantrell Andrews 1 run (kick blocked)
C — Andrews 11 run (run failed)
C — Brandon Pickens 44 run (John Ritter run)
C — Fisher 8 run (kick failed)
C — Andrews 6 run (pass failed)
S — Fisher 6 run (pass failed)
RUSHING — Seckman, Tyler Fisher 34-191, Kyle Fisher 3-2, Chris Simmering 3-2. Central, Pickens 6-54, Andrews 11-52, Ray Woldtvedt 4-41, Ritter 10-33, Andrew Williams 5-minus 1, team 1-minus 5.
PASSING — Seckman, Kyle Fisher 18-37-2-184, Travis Cardona 0-1-0-0. Central, Williams 3-6-0-62.
RECEIVING — Seckman, Corey Vasel 7-60, J.B. Arnold 6-59, Alek Ferbet 3-52, Kyle Fisher 1-15, Cardona 1-minus 2. Central, Zach Boerboom 2-40, Drew Gardner 1-22.
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