Valley Preps

Central rolling into marquee Opelika matchup looking ever bit as strong as last season

Central celebrates a touchdown Friday night in the Backyard Brawl against Smiths Station.
Central celebrates a touchdown Friday night in the Backyard Brawl against Smiths Station. photo@ledger-enquirer.com

Central coach Jamey DuBose somehow found ways to find fault his team’s 51-14 win over Smiths Station Friday night.

The coach wasn’t happy with the Red Devils down field passing game and the offense was flagged for some early holding calls, but the complaints didn’t amount to much as the team dominated the Backyard Brawl from start to finish.

Dubose’s counterpart across the field can’t see anything that will hold Central back from another deep playoff run.

“There ain’t much of a fall off from the first team to the second team,” Smiths Station coach Adam Fossett said. “They have athletes down there. They are a good ball club. They have got players everywhere. No doubt about that.”

Fossett’s team got beat badly in every phase with Central showing they are every bit as strong as the team that made a run to the semifinals last season.

Dubose was particularly pleased with the way Central’s special teams units positively impacted the game with defensive back DJ Rias returning a punt 69-yards for a touchdown and Karon Delince taking the opening kick down to Smiths Station’ 8-yard line

“We have been trying to pride ourselves on special teams,” DuBose said. “My three years here I thought that’s what cost us deep in the playoffs. We have really put a lot of emphasis each week and tried to make our guys understand it’s a difference in a ball game.”

Central scored three touchdowns in a 21-second span early in the second quarter to expand its lead to 41-7.

DuBose was able to mix and match his lineups the rest of the night rotating in the backups on defense and putting backup quarterback Peter Parrish in with the first team skill position players for a stretch.

For a program that’s dealt with a fair share of injuries the past two seasons, getting quality reps for players up and down the roster is important.

“We got film on some young kids too trying to build some depth,” DuBose said. “We are trying to build our young players as the season goes on.”

Central now turns its head towards an undefeated Opelika team beat Benjamin Russell 34-0 Friday night for its third shutout of the season.

The marquee matchup should be one to watch with both programs playing at a championship level.

Final Score: Central 51, Smiths Station 14

Key play: It would easy to point to any number of plays Central made, but DJ Rias 72-yard punt return started the Red Devils’ second quarter onslaught. When Riaz first touched the ball Smiths Station trailed 21-7. Twenty seconds later it was 41-7 with Central on its way to a eighth straight win in the Backward Brawl.

Difference makers:

Justyn Ross, Central, wide receiver — Ross didn’t light up the scoreboard with Central spreading around many of its explosive plays on offense, defense and special teams, but it was a special moment for the wide receiver when he caught a 8-yard pass from Zion Webb for a touchdown. The two scores he ended up with were the first since he tore his ACL last season.

Peter Parrish, Central, quarterback — Central starting quarterback got an easy night with Parrish coming into the game midway through the second quarter. Parrish worked with the first team skill position players and threw a third quarter touchdown pass.

Team, Central, defense — Central held Smiths Station to less than 50 yards rushing, pressured quarterback Jay Roberts consistently and only allowed seven points. The effort is more impressive considering much of the game was spent relying on the second team defense with junior defensive linemen Tyler Moore and Devin Miller looking particularly impressive.

Smiths Station quote: “Right out of the gate our back is against the wall, 21 seconds into the game we are down 7-0. I try to talk to the kids all the time about battling adversity. They couldn’t overcome an adverse situation like that,” coach Adam Fossett

Central quote: “We want to be the fastest team on turf, grass, or whatever. I felt like in the first quarter we were grooving and on the move,” coach Jamey DuBose

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