CENTERBURG — The Centerburg Trojans struck quickly, cashed in on opportunities and played strong defense throughout the game to get their first win of the year over the visiting Lucas Cubs on Friday.
Centerburg quarterback Drew Osborne (9-for-19, 138 yards, one interception, one TD) had 72 yards rushing to lead the Trojans in a huge confidence-builder.
“Our kids really needed that,” said Centerburg coach Jim Stoyle. “They’ve been doing everything we’ve asked them to do. Tonight, they responded well.”
After the Cubs (1-1) took an early 7-0 lead, the Trojans defense pinned them deep in their own territory. Centerburg (1-1) took advantage of poor punting, getting the ball at the Cubs’ 49 to start the second quarter. Three plays later, Osborne found a wide-open Jacob Teale with a pass down the right side to tie it up at 7-7.
“That really got us going,” said Teale. “Everybody did their part on that play. I can’t thank my team enough, It was really exciting.”
“Our line really stepped up big and our defense had another great game,” said Osborne. “I didn’t get sacked all night because of our offensive line. Jacob had a nice route. He beat his defender and he has speed on his side.”
The Trojans took a 14-7 lead on a 21-yard touchdown run from Jason Ratliff to cap a 12-play, 80-yard drive with just under four minutes to go in the half.
Ratliff (19 rushes for 51 yards, one TD) and teammate Justin Keys (3 for 10) had the help of the offensive line and senior fullback Steven Keihl (8 for 42, one TD) who gave the Centerburg backfield a different sort of look with his slashing, running style.
“We couldn’t have done it without the whole team,” said Keihl. “The offensive line did great when I was running the ball. Drew, Jason Ratliff, the whole team did great. There are some things to improve on, but we did a lot better job.”
“Our offensive line did a nice job,” said Stoyle. “Our kids are coming together as a team and we’ve just got to keep their confidence going and keep playing.”
Keihl scored in the third quarter to give the Trojans their biggest lead of the night, 26-7, with under five minutes to go in the third quarter.
The Trojans’ defense yielded only 57 passing yards, but they had all they could handle trying to stop 205-pound Cubs’ fullback Russell Robinson (25 for 138, two TDs.) Fortunately, for the Trojans, he was not able to break through and score until the game was out of reach.
“Anytime you have a guy who is 6-2 and 205 pounds and runs downhill, that wears on anyone,” said Stoyle.
Throughout the game, the Trojans showed their toughness as a team, as they hung together for four quarters.
“The thing we wanted these guys to do is to overcome adversity,” said Stoyle. “There was adversity throughout that game. I think our kids responded well and did a nice job with that. Our defense has played really well. Coach (Andy) Colella is a good, young defensive coordinator. I’m glad he’s on my side. He keeps it simple and plays defense. The kids respect him and they really respond well to him.”