LAWRENCE – In both the 2019 and 2021 season openers, Central Catholic and Springfield Central put up incredible offensive displays.
In both of those games, the teams combined for 94 and 119 points respectively. When the teams met again in the Division 1 Super Bowl last year, it was a bit more defensive, with the Golden Eagles winning by seven in a game that had just 37 points combined.
On Friday night, the teams renewed the rivalry at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Lawrence and the defending champion Eagles made sure there was no repeat of the last two openers against the Raiders, dominating from start to finish with a 38-0 statement win.
William Watson had two rushing touchdowns totaling 74-yards and the SC defense forced six punts and a turnover on downs against a very good Central Catholic offense.
“Right after that state championship we knew who we opened up with, said Watson. “Much respect to them, but we wanted to take their head off because they walked around with a certain type of swag to them as if it was a competition. We wanted to make that statement that it ain’t that no more.”
“That we’re on schedule, that we prepared well this season,” head coach Will Watson said when asked what he learned about his team. “A lot of things can change from September to December. That’s a good program, they’ve got a lot of good coaches and guys that have had a lot of success. They won’t be the same team in November that they were today.”
Josiah Griffin set the tone early with a sack on third down to force a punt on the game’s first possession. Moments later, Watson broke off a 50-yard touchdown run that was video game-like, weaving in and out of defenders until sprinting across the goal line with a ferocious yell. The ensuing two-point attempt was no good, but it didn’t really matter.
After another punt, Watson converted a 4th-&-3 at the CC 12-yard line early in the second and Aiden Pena finished off the 12-play drive with a 7-yard touchdown run, also adding the two-point run for a 14-0 lead.
With 6:41 left in the second, Central Catholic seemed to catch a break, taking over at the SC 44 following a bad punt. A fumbled snap on the first play quickly put the Raiders behind the eight ball and they were forced to punt. Six plays later, Watson ripped off a 24-yard TD run on 3rd-&-6 and added a two-point run to make it 22-0 with 1:43 left in the half.
Seven plays and less than two minutes into the third quarter Springfield Central went up 30-0 on a 4-yard touchdown run by Tariq Thomas and a ridiculous leaping two-point run for Kymari Latney. With SC knocking on the door late in the frame, Preston Zinter got a hand on a low laser by Watson as he tried to jam the ball into a small window inside the 10. Presley Titus picked it off for the lone highlight of the night for the Raiders.
The Golden Eagles put the icing on the cake with a 15-play drive that started with 11:44 left and ended with just 4:15 on the clock. Isaiah Lumpkin punched in a 1-yard TD run and Latney added another two-point conversion.
“Today was about offseason, preseason work,” said Coach Watson. “Just understanding that we wanted to bring the fight to them. When you win a state championship against a team, you tend to come back and see what they bring. We wanted to come out, throw the first blow and be very aggressive.
“I thought we did that well tonight.”