Injury bug bites again: Already without four starters, Central loses three more players in loss
At this point, the Central High School football team is simply trying to survive.
The Warriors have already lost more than a half-dozen players to injuries this season and lost some more Saturday in a 35-14 loss to Lakewood at Stocker Stadium.
“At one point, I said we’re a MASH unit out here,” Central coach Vern McGee said. “Hopefully some of those guys will be back next week. We’re hoping Taylor (Sanchez) will be back. Alec (Rupe) and Jeremy (Lagree) are both hoping to be back. The kids that got hurt today, we’ll have to see.”
Added to the injury list after Saturday’s game were fullback Joe Smith (knee), wide receiver Austin Ketchum (knee) and linebacker John Aragon (ankle).
Lakewood (8-1) limited the Warriors (2-7) to 125 yards in total offense and five first downs.
“We had a new tackle and a new quarterback (in the game),” McGee said. “They come get you too. If you look at it, they are a lot like Junction’s defense. Same colors and everything. We’ve seen that defense before and it was the same outcome.”
Aaron Wallway, who split time at quarterback with sophomore Noah Sanchez in place of Taylor Sanchez, completed a 68-yard pass to Kyle Rowe for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to help the Warriors avoid the shutout.
“(Rowe) is a good receiver,” McGee said. “We’re not getting him enough touches. That was a nice ball Aaron threw.”
Central linebacker Devon Wolff returned an interception 21 yards for a score with 1:54 left in the game to complete the scoring.
Wolff’s interception was the third of the game for the Warriors, who couldn’t stop Lakewood’s big plays.
After a Keenan Collins 5-yard touchdown run gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead, Lakewood recovered a Central fumble to set up another score.
Quarterback Connor Leedholm completed a 20-yard pass to Tim Zott for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead. The two hooked up again for a 43-yard score with 17 seconds left in the second quarter for a 28-0 lead
“We kept giving up the big plays,” McGee said. “They had a nice drive to start with then we get the turnover, but after that we kept giving up the long pass or a long run. They made big plays and you can’t give up big plays to good teams.”
The Tigers had 374 yards in offense, including 229 on the ground. Collins had 12 carries for 101 yards and one touchdown. Leedholm completed 8 of 21 passes for 124 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Zott caught four passes for 105 yards.
Lakewood went up 35-0 in the third quarter when Robert Condon returned an interception 16 yards for a touchdown.
The Tigers will continue their season next weekend in the Class 5A state playoffs and will likely host a first-round game. Lakewood is ranked eighth in the wild-card points system.
Central will close out its season next weekend against a team to be announced today.
8-man football: Plateau Valley’s season came to an end with a 56-2 loss to La Veta in a Western Conference division crossover game in La Veta. The Cowboys (2-6) finished fourth in the Western Division despite scrambling to put together a team as the season began.