Central closes in on its 3rd straight district title

Saturday, November 2, 2002

When you have as much talent as the Central Tigers, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle.

Central senior receiver Chris Daniel, who came into Friday's game with just eight catches this season, used that to his advantage against the Perryville Pirates.

Daniel, who sometimes gets lost in the Tiger offense, instead got lost in the Perryville defense for two touchdown receptions in Central's 29-14 victory over the Pirates at Houck Stadium.

Central improved to 8-1 overall and 2-0 in the district in its quest for a third straight Class 4, District 1 crown. Perryville was eliminated from district contention, falling to 2-7 and 0-2.

"Pick your poison," Perryville coach Lance Bell said. "We tried to double-cover Monroe Hicks. If you're going try to stop one of them, you can't stop them all. They were just a lot more talented than we were."

Hicks still managed to rush for 115 yards on 18 carries, but the Tigers hurt the Pirates mostly with the pass.

Tiger quarterback Mitch Craft threw three touchdown passes and passed for 215 yards. He threw a 24-yard scoring pass to Mark Dunaway on the Tigers' first possession of the game and found Daniel wide open for touchdown passes of 28 and 8 yards.

"When you've got great players like Monroe Hicks, Seth Hudson and all these great receivers, you can't defend them all," Daniel said. "Tonight I was the open guy. Next time it will be someone else."

Daniel, who had three receptions for 72 yards, was one of five different receivers to pull in passes.

"I don't think folks know it, but he's among the fastest guys on our team," Central coach Lawrence Brookins said. "He's really quick. Senior year, he wants to contribute so bad, he'll do anything you ask him to do. A good kid. I'm really happy things are coming around for him. He'll have some good memories as a senior."

The win was all the more impressive in light of the Tigers playing without four starters, three missing due to disciplinary reasons. The four players left three vacancies on the offensive line -- filled by Josh Ford, John Thies and David Hammond -- and three holes on defense.

"We can't take any team for granted," Daniel said. "Coach Brookins is really, really big about that. He wants every game to be identical and be nothing but sheer effort. We didn't take this team lightly and we tried even harder with those players missing."

A day after Halloween, the Tigers opened the game with a little leftover trickery. Colin Schermann recovered his own on-side kick to give Central possession at the Pirate 48.

"We were just trying to steal some momentum and it worked," Brookins said.

Seven plays later Craft hit Dunaway with a third-and-12 touchdown pass and Schermann added the extra point for a 7-0 lead at the 9:22 mark.

After forcing Perryville to punt, Central, starting from its own 48, again needed just seven plays to score. On a first-down play from the 28, Craft found Daniel 10 yards behind the Pirate secondary at the 5-yard line. Daniel latched on and waltzed into the end zone.

"I just lofted that one in there easy because I knew there wasn't anyone around," Craft said.

Central's attempt for two points failed and the Tigers led 13-0 at the 4:37 mark of the first quarter.

Schermann added a 32-yard field goal to cap the first-half scoring for a 16-0 lead.

Central dominated the half with 245 yards offense to just 37 for Perryville.

The lead grew to 29-0 in the third quarter as the Tigers scored on their first two possessions of the half. Daniel pulled in an 8-yard scoring pass and Hicks scored on an 11-yard run, the latter with 1:59 left in the third quarter.

Perryville used virtually the remainder of the game on two scoring drives, including a 20-play, nine-minute drive that was capped by a Matt Unterreiner 3-yard run. Andrew Bachmann added a 2-yard touchdown run.

"Our kids tried real hard and didn't give up and I'm proud of them, Bell said. "Cape's going to go a long way I believe."

Jesse Whistler led Perryville with 83 yards rushing on 17 carries. The Pirates finished with 168 yards rushing and 191 yards of offense. Central finished with 158 yards rushing and 373 yards of total offense.

Central can clinch the district and SEMO North crowns Thursday with a win over Poplar Bluff.


335-6611, extension 124

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