Ledger Sports Roundup: 09/23/2022

By Jeremy Jacob, Sports Editor
Posted 9/24/22

Football

Centralia controlled by Monroe City in 28-7 loss

The seconds just kept ticking away for Centralia on Friday night.

The Class 2 No. 6 Panthers hosted Clarence Cannon Conference rival …

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Ledger Sports Roundup: 09/23/2022

Posted

Football

Centralia controlled by Monroe City in 28-7 loss

The seconds just kept ticking away for Centralia on Friday night.

The Class 2 No. 6 Panthers hosted Clarence Cannon Conference rival and top team in Class 1 in Monroe City, losing 28-7. Monroe City had a time of possession of 32:29 to more than double the 15:31 Centralia had the ball.

Monroe City outrushed the Panthers, carrying the ball for 295 yards and handing it off to Ceaton Pennewell 29 times for 121 yards and four touchdowns. Centralia finished with 182 yards on the ground, with 136 of them including a 67-yard touchdown coming from the legs of Kyden Wilkerson. The Panthers turned the ball over twice – an interception and a fumble on the goal line – that each turned into Monroe City touchdowns.

Head coach Tyler Forsee said Monroe City is a team with a lot of physicality up front. Even though it is obvious going in that Monroe City was going to run the ball, doing just that by finishing with three pass attempts, he said it is still tough to stop.

“It was a challenge for us to get off the field on defense,” Forsee said. “They were able to control the game with their line play. We had to try to find a way to get them off the field, and we weren’t able to do that.”

Pennewell scored from one-yard out and tacked on two points after an 11-play, 56-yard drive that gave Monroe City an 8-0 lead with about six minutes left in the first quarter. Centralia was able to interrupt the subsequent Monroe City march down the field with a Breylen Whisler interception that he snatched out of the air along the left sideline.

That was Monroe City’s first pass attempt of the game, and quarterback Reece Buhlig wouldn’t throw it again for a while as he ran a 31-yard play deep into Centralia territory in the second quarter. Pennewell eventually plunged forward another yard for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

“(Their run) hits so fast. It’s hard to replicate in practice,” Forsee said. “It’s hard to get them in those third-and-longs that get a defense off (the field) because of the nature of their offense.”

Centralia (4-1, 2-1 CCC) will move on to face Clark County (3-2, 1-2 CCC) on the road Friday after the Indians lost 13-6 at South Shelby in Week 5.

“I was impressed with Monroe City tonight,” Forsee said. “They were able to penetrate some gaps and put us in some tough down and distance areas. Our kids fought their tails off, but hats off to them.”

North Callaway snags 34-22 comeback win at Mark Twain

North Callaway had allowed Mark Twain to score 22 points following a 71-yard kick return with five minutes left in the second quarter.

Those were the final points the Thunderbirds allowed as they proceeded to score 22 unanswered points to win the Eastern Missouri Conference road matchup 34-22. North Callaway forced four turnovers and made Mark Twain give up the ball on three of its final five drives.

Braydn O’Neal and Sergio Moreno each had interceptions for North Callaway, and Kyle Pennell had the other one along with his team-high 14 tackles on defense. On offense, O’Neal threw for 195 yards and two touchdowns on 11-for-23 passing and ran for 168 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. The two passing touchdowns both went to Moreno, who caught four passes for 129 yards.

Head coach Kevin O’Neal said his defense focused on stopping the run, Lakoda Preston in particular, and thinks North Callaway did just that by surrendering 140 yards on 43 carries. Preston had 129 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries but was only able to rush for at least five yards twice after halftime. When the Tigers adjusted, the Thunderbirds did too.

“We had focused on stopping the run game because (Preston) is an excellent athlete and a very good runner,” O’Neal said. “They had a couple long runs here and there, but I thought our defense did a good job of stopping the run. They were getting their big chunk yardage on pass plays, so we made some adjustments there and ended up shutting down their pass plays for the most part.”

O’Neal said linebackers Pennell and Eli Henry were key in stopping Mark Twain’s run because they both do their homework.

“Both guys, Kyle especially, watches film and understands the game,” O’Neal said. “He’s another intelligent player for us. He had the reads down for their run.”

North Callaway (3-2, 2-1 EMO) hosts Van-Far (1-4, 1-3 EMO), who lost 41-28 at Wright City in Week 5, for its homecoming.

First half sinks Mexico in 49-8 loss at Hannibal

Mexico had a tough challenge in traveling to Class 4 No. 9 Hannibal on Friday, but the first half didn’t make it any easier.

Hannibal scored all of its points in a decisive 49-8 loss for Mexico as the Bulldogs allowed three touchdowns by Markahl Humphrey and three from Aneyas Williams, who broke the school career touchdown record with his 91st score.

Head coach Steve Haag said the first half didn’t leave Mexico in a good competitive position as the many missed tackles, missed assignments and lack of a “competitive bone” in their body led to the terrible start against a Hannibal offensive line “took control.”

“That was probably the worst half in my nine years that we played,” Haag said. “They’re a good football team – not to take anything away from them. We’re playing on our heels all night.”

Haag said it is a simple solution for Mexico if it hopes to rebound from that first half. The Bulldogs need to “get back to work.”

“We got to put in the time, and when the ball’s snapped on Friday nights, we've got to be ready to compete. Losing’s one thing, but when you lose and don’t really compete, that’s the bothersome part about it. I like our team, I like our guys and I believe in our players, but it’s just not typical Mexico football tonight.”

Haag said Mexico was able to move the ball more once Hannibal cooled off with the blitzing and its option was effective. Andrew Runge ran in a touchdown from about 20 yards out with six minutes left in the game.

From now on, Haag said Mexico should be doing those things well in the first half, or “when the fire’s the hottest,”

Mexico (2-3, 1-1 NCMC) looks to be ready for the latest edition of the 54 Bowl as it hosts North Central Missouri Conference rival and district foe Fulton (0-5, 0-2 NCMC), who lost 28-14 at home against Moberly in Week 5.

Van-Far loses Wright City late in 41-28 loss

Van-Far had a two-point lead in the fourth quarter Friday at Wright City.

The Indians had just set a new season-high in points after quarterback Nikos Connaway ran in a score that followed the set up from Gage Gibson’s 53-yard return, but Wright City scored the final 15 points to defeat Van-Far 41-28.

Head coach Lucas Gibson said there were a couple instances the offense was just a yard short of converting on fourth down. The offense couldn’t match the efficacy of Wright City’s, but Gibson said a 13-0 first-quarter lead Wright City had set a bad tone for the night.

“We were literally one yard of converting for first down on two drives but just didn’t quite make it,” Gibson said. “We can do better by not spotting them 13 points before we get started. We battled back into halftime and then we lost by 13 points.”

Gibson had an interception that gave Van-Far a chance to get on the scoreboard after falling behind by 13, which the Indians did with a two-point conversion. Van-Far lost a fumble after recovering an onside kick but still led 22-19 at halftime.

The Indians’ first drive of the second half stalled, but Wright City’s didn’t so the Wildcats had a 26-22 lead. Gibson said Van-Far did have issues tackling Wright City running back Duan McRoberts.

“They do have a good running back,” Gibson said. “We couldn’t bring him down a couple times so there were long runs and missed tackles.”

With some injuries that are cropping up for Van-Far, including the starting left tackle being out Friday because of a broken ankle, Gibson was impressed how a few players stepped up despite not playing a lot previously. Defensive end Tyrece Cole and safety Kasen Christian are a couple that come to mind.

“(Cole) had a great game and made some big stops,” Gibson said. “Kasen Christian got an interception. Some that normally don’t see the field as much got on there and showed out.”

Gibson said he thought his team’s performance against a Class 3 Eastern Missouri Conference opponent is still a sign Van-Far (1-4, 1-3 EMO) is going in the right direction but wants get better at its strategy starting with North Callaway (3-2, 2-1 EMO), who won 34-22 at Mark Twain in Week 5, on the road Friday.

Kendrick hurt in Paris’ 46-8 loss to Westran

Paris lost its third straight game at home to Westran but lost so much more Friday night.

In their 46-8 loss to their Lewis and Clark Conference foe, the Coyotes witnessed Colton Kendrick being removed soon after halftime when they were already down 20-0. Payden Crane scored his first career varsity touchdown on a 12-yard pass with four minutes left in the third quarter, but the Hornets (2-3, 1-1 L&C) had too much of an advantage.

Head coach and Westran graduate Joseph Utterback said Paris’ offense and defense “revolve around” him and are hoping for good news from the pending X-rays. For now, Utterback said the team can wish Kendrick “all our thoughts and prayers” and look to guys like the freshman Crane, who the team had faith in prior to the injury, 6-foot-7 Alex Williams, who was drawing double and triple teams Friday, and Hunter Hartgrove, who made a few nice catches including the two-point conversion after Crane’s touchdown.

“He’s such an athlete, so offensively, we really try to get him the ball out in space,” Utterback said. “He’s our slot receiver so he motions all over the field. He does all kinds of stuff for us, so that will be a hard role to fill. We’ll have to take a look at doing some things differently.

“(Crane) is going to be one of those kids we take a good, hard look at, and he’ll have to step up more,” Utterback said. “We’ve got several that are like that. (The senior Hartgrove) had his first varsity start and he got to run out on the field and be part of that. That meant a lot to him because he grew up watching those guys run out there on the field.”

Gatlin Fountain finished with 13 solo tackles, Clayton Duncan had three fumble recoveries as part of five turnovers forced by the Coyotes’ defense, and Paris was positive in the turnover differential for the first time this season.

“We played great on defense,” Utterback said. “That’s just a continuation of where we’ve been at. Our defense is really, really solid.”

Still, Paris’s offense that averages 13 points per game didn’t have an easy night with Westran’s defensive line, specifically reigning conference defensive player of the year and all-state player Langden Kitchen. He had a 22-yard run for a touchdown and also jumped in front of a screen pass before returning it for a touchdown, Utterback said.

If Kitchen has plans of playing at the next level, Utterback is confident he’ll be able to as he disrupted the Coyotes’ offense all night.

“He made a huge difference,” Utterback said. “We had a hard time blocking him up front. He’s pretty incredible. He was a load to handle, and they’ve got some solid pieces there (on the defensive line).”

Paris (1-4, 0-3 L&C) plays at Fayette (3-2, 2-1 L&C), who lost 14-12 at Marceline in Week 5.

Look for the full stories in the Sept. 28, 2022, edition of The Mexico Ledger or on the website on the same day.

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