Because it had just lost its first game of the season at home to Mexico one week earlier, the Centralia varsity football, 6-4 overall, team didn't perform they way it knew it could when it fell at Palmyra, 8-2 overall, in a Clarence Cannon Conference contest in week seven, 35-0.
Now the Panthers are slated for the rematch at the same location this Friday in the Class 2, District 6, semifinals and it's anybody's guess as to how the visitors will perform.
In that first matchup Centralia's biggest problem was losing the total yardage battle 148-357. This included getting out-rushed 348-93. The good news is that the Panthers allowed just nine passing yards for this contest. But, because they also primarily exercise the ground attack, signal caller Clayton Simkins was only able to throw for 55 yards by completing 8-of-20 passes.
Centralia's other constant is a hard-nosed defensive approach led by Chris Hicks, Kaiden Davenport and Gus Stidham. Add to that players like Bradley Kaiser, Trevor Bodine and Caden Vanskike and this team certainly hopes it'll find a way to keep its momentum rolling over and through this upcoming weekend.
On special teams the names to look for in the return game for the Panthers are Guy Moran and Nick Wheaton. AJ Tuggle also appears to be getting more playing time in this part of the game, as does Trey Owens. If these players can help keep their team from turning the ball over, their contributions may not make a big difference statistically, but they will end up creating moments those individuals won't soon forget.
The weapons Palmyra has been using this season all take their cues from quarterback Jacob Kroeger. This includes running backs Peyton Plunkett and Tucker Aesschliman and wide receivers Braxden Neil and Gabe Goodwin. Plunkett and Goodwin are also main cogs in this squads defensive efforts, as are Brady Bennett, Aesschliman and Kroeger.
Highlights this season for Palmyra mostly revolve around a seven-game win-streak the club enjoyed that began Aug. 25 with a 42-6 home win over Bowling Green. The squad then won at Highland 34-14 on Sept. 1, Clark County 20-6 on Sept. 15 and Louisiana 58-14 on Sept. 22 according to maxpreps.com.
This squad was also victorious at home on Oct. 6 against Brookfield 28-2, on Sept. 8 Palmyra defeated South Shelby 37-6 and last week the team began the postseason by destroying Clopton/Elsberry 79-8