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Chargers earn 34-16 victory over Raiders

Central High School’s varsity football team traveled to Amelia County High School on Monday evening, March 22, and used a strong run game to claim a 34-16 win.

Chargers junior running back NyJae Carter had a big game, helping set up scores with runs and also reaching the end zone himself more than once.

At halftime, the Chargers held on to a narrow 14-8 lead but grew that to as many as 20 points in the second half, definitively bouncing back from the 27-22 home loss they experienced against Nottoway High School Friday, March 12.

Will Thomas, Central’s head coach, noted it is always a battle for his team when it goes to Amelia.

“It’s a physical game,” he said, adding that each program has well-established styles of play. “We know each other, so that leads to some interesting ball games.”

In 2019, the Chargers defeated the host Raiders 56-50 in a pivotal game that went to triple overtime.

Thomas said it is also always a must-win game for the Chargers, usually slotting into the sixth or seventh contest of a 10-game regular season when Central is looking to position itself for a good seed in the playoffs.

Though the Chargers are in the midst of a five-game regular season currently, Friday’s game had similar stakes as Central’s third game, and Thomas was pleased with the performance his players put forth.

“Overall, our kids played really tough, so I was happy,” he said. “(We got) a lot of young kids on the field — at one point on defense there was one senior on the field, so a lot of young kids who probably wouldn’t play on a normal schedule, not varsity, they get a lot of playing time.”

Central featured a variety of standout players Monday.

“I thought our three backs ran hard,” Thomas said, referring to Carter, sophomore Dasjohn Hurt and sophomore Kemarion Watson, who scored.

The coach also praised junior running back A.J. Jones Jr. for having some good runs.

Hurt and junior Willie Owens played well in the secondary, Thomas said, also highlighting the performances of junior linebacker Ben Currin, freshman linebacker/quarterback Connor Mattox, senior linebacker/tight end Mark Strigel II and sophomore defensive end Jamel Alexander.

On offense, Mattox also gave his team an early 6-0 lead on a 2-yard touchdown run.

Thomas also singled out senior offensive lineman/linebacker Hunter Hinkle.

“He got hurt late in the first half, and he’s one of the few that plays both offense and defense, and he came back in,” the coach said. “He’s just a tough kid, just a warrior.”

Central eventually rested him, and Thomas expressed hope that he will be back for the Chargers’ next game given his importance to what the team does on the field.

“Overall our line blocked well,” the coach said. “I thought we did a pretty good job.”

Next, the Chargers (2-1) host Goochland High School (4-0) Saturday, March 27, at 1 p.m.