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Central High School
Pageland

Central football heads into the playoffs

By Ken Buck

Staff Writer

Pageland

Playoff football and the Central High Eagles are synonymous in Class AA football, and the Eagles will be back in the playoffs this Friday night.

First year head Trent Usher says that his team that has struggled at times is getting hot at the right time.

“I think we have turned the corner,” he says. “But at the same time we aren’t playing well enough on defense or at least we did not last Friday night in the second half (when Central beat North Central 56-36).

“I do think that we have a chance to make some noise in the playoffs if everything goes out way.

Defensively Usher says that the team made some “boneheaded” errors later in the game against North Central, giving up 30 points in the second half.

“I think also that being up big at halftime we sort of relaxed and let our guard down,” Usher explains. “I think that we can solve that and this week is going to be totally different.”

And this week is a first-round playoff road trip to a strong Saluda team.

“You play well against what you see a lot and Saluda is going to run the ball a lot (like Central does),” says Usher. “Hopefully we can figure out that and (get better defensively).”

Central finished 7-3 but a tie in the region that came down to defensive points moved the Eagles from potentially being a second seed to a fourth seed. The defensive points’ difference from second to fourth was three points.

Offensively, Usher said that his team is hitting their stride at the right time.

“I thought Friday night we did outstanding running the ball (against North Central),” he says. “We are starting the run the ball really well and had three guys all over 100 yards rushing for the game.”

Kevon Wall, Ty Miller, and JR Reid all rushed for all 100 yards in the game.

“Ty is our workhorse and our offense is going to run through him,” says Usher. “He is going to average about 25 carries a game.”

With a stable of backs doing so well, the offensive line has to be producing, and those offensive linemen include BR Hatcher, Shawn Hough, Collin Tice, Devin Rushing, and Zack Harris.

“All of (the offensive line) have been doing outstanding for us and last week we had about 500 yards of total offense and about 430 yards of total offense the week before,” says Usher.

“We are hitting our stride at just the right down for the playoffs,” he adds.

Usher also said that he did not anticipate the long road trip to Saluda for the first round of the playoffs to affect his team very much.

“I think we play better on the road, to be honest with you,” he says. “As far as for the long trip the kids are probably going to be excited because they will get to get out of class earlier.

“I don’t think that it is going to have any affect at all. At the end of the day we still have to put our pads on and play.”

This Central Eagles team is relatively young but has had some playoff experience.

“We are young but we’re hitting our stride by this time of the season,” Usher says.

The Saluda team the Eagles will face this week are really good on the defensive front, anchored by a Shrine Bowl pick.

“They are physical and they have a great quarterback,” says Usher. “They like to pound it in between the tackles so we are going to have our hands full on the defensive side of the ball.”

In other Central high news, the boys and girls cross country teams are also in the post season and doing well, according to Athletic Director Mitch Leaird.

The Central cross country teams recently competed in the state qualifying meet, and to make the state finals a team has to finish in the top 18. The girls finished 9th overall and the boys finished 11th overall, moving them to this weekend’s state finals.

The tricky part is that the team that ran last weekend will be the same top 18 teams so the boys will be looking to improve and move into the top ten and the girls will try to stay in the top ten.

They will be competing again the same people,” added Leaird. “Last Saturday’s qualifying meet is sort of a predictor of what could happen this Saturday at the state finals.”

Leaird says that it was a goal of both the boys and the girls teams to finish in the top ten for the season, so if our girls can maintain and our boys can move up just a little bit then we can help them meet those goals.”

The girls won their first ever region title in school history for girls cross country. The boys narrowly missed a region title, finishing in second place behind Cheraw.

“Both teams have had very successful seasons this year but I thought that with the girls winning their first ever region championship with extra special,” Leaird says. “In past years we just could not take that extra step from second place up to first and at the region meet back in October we finally beat Buford for the first time ever in any meet to take first place in the girls.”

 The boys team is coached by veteran coach Joel Dale and the girls coach is veteran Anne Mueller.

 

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