Central gives Huskies cold welcome home, 40-7

Jackson Baer

For The New Era

The top-ranked 4A team in the state, Central, delivered on its reputation Friday, rolling over Sweet Home 40-7 in the Huskies’ first home appearance of the season.

The field conditions were wet and made for somewhat of a sloppy game.

The Huskies were visibly deflated by the end of the game, but they put up a fight until the end, scoring their sole touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Sweet Home came out playing tough and trailed only 13-0 at the half.

“This was a game we were expected to lose big and we look at the 13-0 score at halftime and it shocked everyone,” Head Coach Dustin Nichol said. “Then we came out in the third quarter, go three and out and punt, but we get a penalty. We have to punt it again and they got a short field. They had the short field for three series and when that happens you’re at a disadvantage.”

The first quarter started with Sweet Home driving the football down the field, only to fumble deep in Central territory. On the following Panther possession the Huskies got the ball back when Patrick Long knocked the ball loose and fellow senior Kyle Sorenson recovered.

The offense was unable to capitalize and Central scored the first points of the game on a 27-yard touchdown pass with 1:51 left in the quarter. The Huskies were stopped on offense but the special teams recovered a fumble by the Panthers after the punt, courtesy of sophomore Mitch Keenon €“ his second fumble recovery in as many weeks.

After getting the ball back, Sweet Home started the second quarter driving deep into Panther territory for the second time. On third and 1 the Huskies looked ready to tie the game up, but two penalties that cost the Huskies 22 yards made it third and 23 and they were stopped.

Central scored again with 3:09 left in the half on a 10-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was blocked by senior Kris Newport.

The Huskies had one more chance to score before half time but a questionable offensive pass interference call put an end to the drive. Central then started to move the ball and had what looked to be a big play down field that was broken up by Santana on excellent coverage.

Sweet Home stopped the Panthers on fourth down with 36 seconds remaining and went into half time scoreless, but only down 13-0 against a tough opponent.

“They were the number one-ranked team in the state but we played very well physically,” said senior Grason Reynolds. “Most of our mistakes came from mental mistakes like penalties and hand-offs.”

The third quarter would not be a memorable one for the Huskies. Central found the end zone for the first of three rushing touchdowns in the period. Panthers senior running back Aidan Braa-Stanely rushed for all three touchdowns in the quarter.

After Central’s first second-half score, Sweet Home fumbled on its first play and 42-seconds later, Stanely ran the ball in for his second touchdown.

On the next Husky drive Central got whistled for running into the kicker on fourth down, giving Sweet Home another chance.

But the Huskies followed the Central penalty with one of their own, a false start, to negate any momentum and were forced to punt again.

The Panthers scored their third touchdown of the quarter with 4:04 remaining to give them a 34-0 lead headed into the fourth quarter.

Sweet Home looked like it might get shut out after another Panther touchdown with 9:12 left in the game.

But the Huskies weren’t finished. Senior quarterback Keenan Martin connected with Alex Santana for a 33-yard completion that was followed by a 15-yard run by Martin.

These were the only two big plays of the game for Sweet Home, but they were enough, leading to the home team’s only score of the game. Kyle Sorenson rushed for a 3-yard touchdown with 4:07 left to play.

Nichol said team morale is one of disgust.

“Their actions in the game speak for themselves,” he said. “They’re frustrated. They’re not happy with the way things have gone. We’ve kind of beat ourselves, especially against Central with penalties and turnovers. It’s just mental mistakes and I think you can see the frustration coming through in the kids. But they competed till the end and scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter.”

One positive thing for the Huskies to take away from this game is that they held the high- powered Central offense to 40-points, the Panthers’ lowest total of the season.

“Tonight we actually had a better night on defense than the past two games,” sophomore Nate Melcher said. “We were hitting harder and stopping Central’s offense. The reason it looked so bad is we were making a lot of mental errors and all the penalties hurt us.

“Nobody likes to lose but that’s the past, all we can do is look at the future and be confident that we can win.”

The Huskies did a better job stopping the run, something they were unable to do in the first two weeks of the season. Central rushed the ball 41 times for 279 yards and were 14 of 29 through the air for 225 yards.

Sweet Home’s offensive numbers were down this week, totaling 151 yards; 64 of those came on the ground while 87 came through the air.

“We need to bring the physical play we brought this week and get rid of our mental mistakes and have a better offensive game,” said Grason Reynolds.

Santana, who had another good all-around game with three receptions for 50 yards and making plays on the defensive side, also said the Huskies’ biggest problems are mental.

“I think we just had a lot of mental mistakes and penalties,” he said. “I think that’s what got us down. We just need to focus and make plays.”

The Huskies, 0-3, host Taft this Friday at 7 p.m. The Tigers are also 0-3 after a 49-14 loss to Junction City.

“I think a win would set the tone for going into conference.” Nichol said. “Some of the younger players are stepping up and we’re getting a chance to see who wants a starting spot. Those include promising sophomores Melcher, Keenon, Wade Paulus and Colton Holly.

Nichol said both Paulus and Zach Jackson will be back this week, after sitting out against Central with injuries. This will be a big lift to the defense, getting Jackson back who has been described as the leader on that side and another big option at receiver in 6-2 Paulus.

The penalties were clearly one of the big reasons Sweet Home fell behind so much and in the battle of “0-3’s” this week versus Taft they will need to cut down on mistakes and keep the offense on the field.

“Every game we give up a quarter with 21 points in it,” Nichol said. “This time it was in the third quarter. (But) through all of that there were a lot of good things I saw.”

Scoring Summary

1st 2nd 3rd 4th Total

C 7 6 21 6 40

SH 0 0 0 7 7


1st Quarter

C:1:51 Tanner Omlid 27 yd pass to Ty Phillips (kick good)

2nd Quarter

C: 3:09 Omlid 10 yd pass to Anthony Padilla (kick failed)

3rd Quarter

C: 9:08 Aidan Braa-Stanely 4 yd run (2 pt PAT Omlid to Marcus McArdle)

C: 8:26 Braa-Stanely 2 yd run (kick failed)

C: 4:04 Braa-Stanely 3 yd run (kick good)

4th Quarter

C: 9:12 Nick Jaindl 5 yd run (kick blocked)

SH: 4:07 Kyle Sorenson 3 yd run (Alex Santana PAT)

Team Statistics

Rushing: SH 24-64; Central 41-279

Passing: SH 7-18-0, 87; Central 14-29-0, 225

First Downs: SH 9; Central 23

Penalties: SH 11-91; Central 14-127

Turnovers: SH 3; Central-2

SH Offensive Stats:

Total Yards: 151 yards Rushing: 64 yards

Passing : 87 yards

Individual Rushing: Patrick Long 8-25; Kyle Sorenson 7-21, 1 TD; Keenan Martin 3-9 (Sacks: 1); Kris Newport 1-5; Hunter Bidwell 4-7; Alex Coakley 1- -3

Individual Passing:

Keenan Martin 18-7-0-87

Individual Receiving:

Alex Santana 3-50; Zach Miller 2-21; Alex Coakley 1-10; Kyle Sorenson 1- 6