The weather prospects for the Centralia varsity football game last Friday at home against Clarence Cannon Conference rival Palmyra were about as dismal as they get.
So miserable, in fact, Marshall asked that its home game against Mexico be moved up by a day and an hour. Centralia head coach Jim Newsted had no intentions of bowing to mother nature and instead stuck to the schedule and that turned out to be the right decision because after the first quarter the little rain that was coming down stopped. The damage had been done, though, as afternoon precipitation had turned the field into a slow, soggy surface that was going to absorb any speed it even came close to.
Palmyra, in turn, used that to its advantage because it was simply bigger and stronger than Centralia and it showed as the visitors slowly-but surely pulled away to claim a 28-8 league victory.
"Before the game this field was softer than it is now. Our issue at the beginning of the game was snapping the ball because our center is very young," said Newsted. "We worked with him for a couple days, but that's not something we've worked on all year, so things didn't quite go as planned. We had planned for some opportunities on offense, but we had some small mistakes. All we can do is just keep plugging away and get better. No one wants to hear that after they lose, but that's where we're at."
What eventually became the difference in this game was turnovers and Centralia's first came at 2:38 of the first quarter when Palmyra's Jarom Alexander intercepted a John Durant pass around midfield and returned it all the way for a touchdown. For the contest Durant was 4-for-12 passing for 31 yards and two interceptions. For the quarter that was the only score as Centralia went into the second trailing 6-0.
"He has a lot of heart, but he also made mistakes tonight. I wasn't yelling and screaming at him. He understands the game. He sees things," Newsted said. "Sometimes he doesn't see them until he gets to the sidelines and he says he should have done this or that. He's picking it up. Durant will be fine. My biggest concern isn't my skill kids. I've got some young offensive linemen that need to get better. Palmyra's defense is fast. They stunted and slanted a lot. We had a hard time picking those things up."
While Centralia's second turnover, a fumble just shy of the 50-yard line in the second, didn't lead to any points for Palmyra, its next fumble was eventually parlayed into a 29-yard scoring strike from Jacob Kroeger to Abe Haerr with 6:16 to go before halftime on a fourth down and four. Because of a one-yard dive eaarlier in the session and after the extra point was good, Palmyra went into halftime leading 21-0.
Despite Centralia having also fumbled both at the end of the second and the start of the third, neither team scored in the initial session of the second half. Palmyra did have a good drive going that only ended because of an interception by Centralia's Nick Wheaton with less than a minute left in the session, but it wasn't until 10:04 of the fourth that Palmyra's Alexander hit paydirt one last time from 10 yards out to extend his teams advantage to 28-0.
Finally, at 2:33 on a 3rd down and goal from the six yard line Centralia quarterback John Durant's 15 carries for 26 yards finally took on some real meaning as he reached the endzone for his squads lone touchdown. Wheaton then ran a sweep left for the two-point conversion to go along with his four receptions for 31 yards and after the failed onside kick attempt Palmyra ran the clock out.
Centralia next plays at Highland.