SPRINGFIELD – The first game of the John Sexton regime didn’t go as planned for the Central Catholic football team Sunday afternoon, as perennial power Springfield Central rolled out a reloaded offense the Raiders couldn’t keep up with in a 44-26 loss.
Freshman Jareth Staine starred under center for the Golden Eagles (1-0), filling former star Pop Watson’s shoes by passing for 256 yards and four touchdowns. Dwayne Early (5 catches, 94 yards) and Mattias Barbour (5 catches, 74 yards) each caught a pair of scores in an effort that saw four players find the end zone.
Central Catholic star quarterback Blake Hebert helped the team nearly storm back from an early deficit with two touchdown runs, but the offense couldn’t deliver on three different possessions that it had the chance to tie the game on. That includes two to start the second half.
Hebert got hurt on a turnover-on-downs on the second of those drives in the third quarter, and Springfield Central blew the game open after he exited late in the third quarter.
The extent of the injury is unknown.
“They’re a very good team – explosive and well-coached like normal,” Sexton said. “I didn’t think we played particularly well on either side of the ball. And when you come out and play a good team and you make a lot of mistakes, that’s what happens.”
It didn’t take long for Springfield Central to show off its offensive prowess in a game resumed from Friday’s postponement due to storm.
Following a Central Catholic three-and-out, the Golden Eagles finished off short starting field position with a 14-yard push pass to Barbour. Springfield Central’s defense stymied the Raiders, and Staine needed just four plays to find Early on a lob to the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
Hebert led a 10-play drive on the ensuing drive to cut the deficit in half with a 1-yard keeper TD. But two possessions later, Staine found Early on a 40-yard lob down the right sideline before connecting with him again for a 3-yard touchdown and a 22-7 lead.
“I thought we did a lot of good things out there,” said Springfield Central head coach Bill Watson. “I think we have a few things to clean up … I think there’s another level that we’re capable of getting to. And that comes with confidence as well, as we continue to get our feet wet.”
The Raiders showed some fight, as Hebert started avoiding the pressure the Golden Eagles rushed all game to lead a long drive in the final minute of the first half. Dump-offs and the right choice on read-options set up a gutsy 28-yard run to cut the deficit to 22-14 going into the break.
Getting that tying score proved to be a problem, though.
First, Hebert threw an interception on a deep ball down 14-7 midway through the second quarter. Central Catholic started the second half with the ball, down eight, but couldn’t move the chains on its own against the Golden Eagles’ strong front seven. Springfield Central gifted a first down on a roughing the punter penalty, but Central Catholic was forced to punt anyway.
Springfield Central had a three-and-out of its own, but Central Catholic couldn’t convert a fourth-and-short at midfield on a fumbled snap – the play Hebert got hurt on. Staine answered with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Barbour and started a string of scoring the Raiders couldn’t keep up with.
“We did have some chances, and I think we left a lot of plays on the field,” Sexton said. “Just not crisp today and that’s on me, I’ve got to do a better job coaching them. We’ve got to clean it up for another good opponent next week.”
SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL 44, CENTRAL CATHOLIC 26
Central Catholic (0-1) 0 14 6 6 – 26
Springfield Central (1-0) 14 8 8 14 – 44
SC – Mattias Barbour 13 pass from Jareth Staine (JayCion Cox run)
SC – Dwayne Early 26 pass from Staine (run failed)
CC – Blake Hebert 1 run (Drew O’Keefe kick)
SC – Early 3 pass from Staine (Preston Longo run)
CC – Hebert 28 run (O’Keefe kick)
SC – Barbour 30 pass from Staine (Longo run)
CC – Max Frediani 64 pass from Matthew Getchell (pass failed)
SC – Longo 15 run (Cox run)
SC – Isaiah Rogers 18 run (run failed)
CC – Mason Bachry 1 run (pass failed)