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Chargers open with 48-12 victory

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed its season, and winter weather limited its prep time, but Central High School’s varsity football team delivered a big win in its home opener Saturday, March 6, defeating Cumberland County High School 48-12.

“It was fun to get back out here, man,” Chargers Head Coach Will Thomas said shortly after the game.

Central entered the contest having completed only eight practices.

“But those guys didn’t have a lot either,” he said, referencing the Dukes. “So we were kind of on the same footing. I know they didn’t have a lot of players. They lost some here and there, but they played tough. My hat’s off to them. Most of them played on offense and defense the whole time, so they’re a tough bunch of guys.”

The Chargers had 38 eligible players for the game.

“All of them played, so that was good,” Thomas said. “Every one of them played at least a couple snaps on offense and defense.”

Though the final score was significantly lopsided, it took a little time to develop the large lead as the score was 14-6 in the second quarter.

“Once we kind of got clicking a little bit and picked up on some mistakes that we were making, they got better,” Thomas said of his players.

Highlighting standouts, he started with junior wide receiver NyJae Carter, who finished with 10 carries for 162 yards and two touchdowns and a two-point conversion catch.

Sophomore running back Dasjohn Hurt ended up with seven carries for 81 yards and a score.

Sophomore running back/linebacker Kamarion “K.J.” Watson had eight carries for 43 yards, two touchdowns and two two-point conversions, and on defense, he had five tackles, including one solo and one for a loss, and an interception with a 34-yard return to the 1-yard line that set up another touchdown for the offense.

Junior running back A.J. Jones ended up with three carries for 39 yards and a touchdown, and sophomore running back Antwaun Jones had six carries for 62 yards and a score.

“Quarterbacks did well today,” Thomas said of senior Tyler McGrath and freshman Connor Mattox. “We alternated them in and out.”

McGrath had a 10-yard rush and completed the two-point conversion pass to Carter, and Mattox ran three times for 21 yards.

“Hunter Hinkle played real well on the offensive line,” the coach said. “He’s kind of a guy that gets things done — undersized but tough kid.”

As a team, Central finished with 44 carries for 447 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging 10.2 yards per carry.

“And then defensively, I thought we tackled a little better than I thought (we would) because we just hadn’t had time to do it,” Thomas said.
Senior linebacker Mark Strigel led the Chargers on defense with 12 total tackles, including two solo and four for a loss. Sophomore defensive lineman Jamel Alexander had eight tackles, including three solo and three for a loss, junior linebacker Ben Currin had six tackles, including three solo and two for a loss, and freshman linebacker Seth Bishop finished with five tackles, including three solo and three for a loss.

Thomas said his team made some mistakes here and there and has some things to clean up, but he was upbeat overall and pleased to be back on the gridiron.

“It’s fun, the way it’s supposed to be — just not in March,” he said.

Central (1-0) will host Nottoway High School on Friday, March 12, at 7 p.m.