Warriors alter attack, beat Horizon at Stocker
Central fixes rushing woes as Warriors find offensive identity
After gaining negative rushing yards in its season-opening loss to Grandview last week, the Central High School football team entered Friday’s nonconference game with Horizon determined to establish the run.
A good ground game set up a couple of pass plays that turned the tide as the Warriors defeated the Hawks 24-15 at Stocker Stadium.
“At first (the Horizon defense) didn’t know what we were capable of,” Central receiver Blaine Jackson said.
“We’ve got great athletes so we can do it,” Central quarterback Holden Reed said of running a balanced run-pass attack.
The Hawks learned quickly. With 22 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Jackson got behind the cornerback along the left sideline and hauled in 72-yard touchdown pass from Reed.
To that point, Central had run the ball seven times and attempted only four passes, all of them on short passes.
“(Horizon) tried to creep up,” Jackson said. “We caught ’em off guard.”
With the Warriors leading 14-9 and the third quarter winding down, Central went to its bag of tricks again — this time renewing a pair of old acquaintances.
Reed made a quick pass to the right side to the slotback, Clay Kame — last year’s starting quarterback.
Jackson faked a block, then broke downfield.
As the defense was drawn in to stop Kame on the run, he pulled up and lofted a pass down the right sideline to a wide-open Jackson for a 32-yard touchdown.
“We’ve run it in practice and in a scrimmage,” Jackson said of the wide receiver pass.
The Hawks hadn’t seen it when Central played Grandview the previous week, however.
The Warriors knew they hadn’t given their best effort on either side of the ball in the 41-0 loss to Grandview.
“We thought we were better (than we showed) last week,” Reed said.
“We challenged them,” Central head coach Vern McGee said.
“Practice was a lot more intense (this week),” said Jackson, who caught four passes for 138 yards. “We felt we stepped up.”
Offensively, McGee challenged the line.
“We wanted them to get after it,” McGee said. “Anybody who knows anything about football knows you win up front.”
The Warriors rushed for 77 yards but gave Reed plenty of time to throw as he connected on 7 of 14 pass attempts.
As the defensive coordinator, McGee also challenges defenders.
“We didn’t feel like we tackled real well last week,” McGee said.
Not only was the tackling more crisp, the defensive coverage didn’t allow Horizon quarterback Billy Carlsen to find any open receivers.
“We think our defensive backs are pretty good,” McGee said. “We man up (in man-to-man defense) about half the time.”
Central (1-1) returns to the Front Range next week to face Gateway in Aurora. The Warriors will head across the Continental Divide with a little more confidence.
“Our first win in (Class) 5A,” McGee beamed as he walked off the field.