By the end of Central’s third offensive drive in Friday’s game against Theodore, the Red Devils had made it readily apparent they were in no mood for an upset.
Central quarterback Peter Parrish tormented the Bobcats early and often in Friday’s Class 7A first round matchup, scoring the first three touchdowns in a 42-13 rout. Parrish’s plays set the tone in a big first half that allowed several Red Devils to rest up in the third and fourth quarter.
“It was another good team win,” Central head coach Jamey DuBose said. “I thought we had a good week of practice, and that’s why we had the quick start. I thought the fast start was ultimately the reason for the win.”
Parrish started the night off right for Central (10-0, 6-0), taking the team’s second play from scrimmage 15 yards for a touchdown. Soon after Central blocked a Bobcats’ punt to set up good field position, Parrish took off once again, scrambling seven yards to put Central ahead 14-0 with 6:07 left in the first quarter.
Parrish added another first-quarter touchdown — this on a 16-yard run — to give the Red Devils a comfortable 21-0 advantage with 3:21 to go in the first. He left soon after, ending the victory with five carries for 42 yards and three touchdowns as well as going 3-for-3 passing for 16 yards.
“In practice, we talked about how we wanted to start fast and score fast,” Parrish said. “We did what we had to do and executed what we had to do. It was really important to start like that.”
The Red Devils’ overpowering first quarter came partially because of the dramatic advantage they had as far as field position. On average, Central’s first three drives — which all ended in Parrish touchdowns — began on the Theodore 43-yard line. The first three drives for Theodore (6-5, 4-4), meanwhile, started on its own 24.
Parrish gave way to fellow quarterback Tucker Melton, but the Red Devils didn’t slow down there.
With 11:02 left in the second quarter, Melton fired a pass toward Justyn Ross near the right corner of the end zone. Ross demonstrated why he’s one of the most coveted seniors in the Southeast, as he dove to his right, reeled in the pass and did his best toe tap for a 10-yard touchdown.
“I really just played with him off the line a little bit and waited for the ball to get in the air,” Ross said. “I just went up and made a play. I bobbled it a little bit, but it was a catch.”
Melton added another touchdown throw less than two minutes later, finding Will Clanton on a 30-yard touchdown pass to make the score 35-0.
The Bobcats finally got on the board when quarterback Trevor Andrews scored on a 9-yard touchdown run with about four minutes left in the second quarter. Central again left them in a five-touchdown hole when Joseph McKay burst through the middle on a 41-yard touchdown run with 1:48 left before halftime.
Andrews also scored on a one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, but that was the last hoorah for the Theodore offense.
The Red Devils face a familiar opponent in the second round Friday, when they host region foe Lee. The two squared off in Montgomery on Oct. 21 in a shootout that the Red Devils eventually won 52-30.
DuBose said he knew a rematch was a possibility given how strong the region was this season. While that might make things difficult, DuBose made it clear it’s up to the coaches and the players to prepare accordingly.
“You never like a second-time matchup, but we’re just proud to be there,” DuBose said. “We’re going to have to be ready to play.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports