The Centurions clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs
For the third straight year, the Christian Academy football team knocked off rival DeSales in the regular season.
Given what’s happened the past two years in the playoff rematch, you can forgive the Centurions for not being overly joyous about Friday’s win.
Still, it was a dominant performance for CAL, which got two touchdown passes from Tanner Young to Clay Davis and showcased a dominant defense in beating DeSales 17-0 at Iroquois.
The Centurions (9-0 overall, 5-0 district) – No. 20 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings – wrapped up the Class 2-A, District Four title, a first-round bye in the playoffs and home-field advantage through the state semifinals as long as they advance.
But CAL has been here before, only to see the past two seasons end with playoff losses to the Colts – 21-16 in 2012 and 34-0 last year.
“This one means a lot, but this isn’t what we’re looking for,” said Davis, who finished with five catches for 58 yards. “We’re looking for that state championship. I’m sure we’ll meet them again sometime down the road.”
Young completed 17 of 30 passes for 212 yards as CAL displayed a balanced offensive attack. Cal Lewellyn added five receptions for 93 yards, and Nick Payne rushed for 83 yards on 27 attempts.
No. 16 DeSales (7-1, 4-1) had won 14 straight games since last year’s loss to CAL but struggled on offense, posting just seven first downs and 150 total yards. It was the Colts’ first game since Sept. 26, as Fort Knox forfeited on Oct. 3 and last week marked their scheduled off week.
“I’m not going to use that as an excuse at all,” Colts coach Harold Davis said. “We just didn’t play our game as well as we normally do. It wasn’t just offense. It was defensive things. … We thought our coaches just didn’t do a good enough job after being off that long. Maybe we should have done things a little different over the past couple of weeks. That’s on me.”
The Centurions set the tone on the opening drive of the game, going 84 yards on 17 plays and eating up 7:52 of the clock. Young was 7 for 11 on the drive, which included conversions on two third downs and one fourth down. Young’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Clay Davis capped the march.
With the emotions of the matchup, CAL coach Stefan LeFors figured the passing game was the way to go on the opening drive.
“I felt like running the football early would be tough,” he said. “We went to the passing game, get the ball out of your hands and be positive on first downs. We made some big third-down plays with tight windows and Tanner throwing some balls in there. That was fun to watch.”
Nathan Bader’s 32-yard field goal gave CAL a 10-0 lead at the 5:01 mark of the third quarter. Meanwhile. DeSales’ offense was stuck, as its first three drives of the second half were three-and-outs.
“We don’t do anything crazy,” LeFors said of a defense that posted its fourth shutout of the season. “We don’t blitz. We sit back and play sound defense. That’s what we did.”
Young’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Davis made it 17-0 with 11:16 left in the fourth quarter and all but put the game away. Both touchdown passes were fades to a back corner of the end zone.
“We figured we could beat their corners a little bit,” Young said. “I just had to throw it up and let them go make a play, and they did that.”
Matt Ruxer rushed for 59 yards on 15 carries to lead the DeSales offense. Quarterback Austin Johnson completed 8 of 19 passes for 72 yards and was intercepted twice.
CAL will be off next week before closing its regular season Oct. 31 with a home game against No. 1 Male (8-0). Then it’s off to the playoffs – and what many expect will be a rematch with DeSales in the third round.
“It was set up for us last year, but credit DeSales,” LeFors said. “There were three big plays I see over and over again, and every time I see them I’m hoping for a different outcome. It will be easier for the guys to stay more focused this time, I’m sure.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and followed on Twitter @kyhighs.
CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 7 0 3 7 – 17
DESALES 0 0 0 0 – 0
CAL – Clay Davis 4 pass from Tanner Young (Nathan Bader kick); CAL – Bader 32 FG; CAL – Davis 8 pass from Young (Bader kick).
Total yards 322 150
First downs 17 7
Rushes-yards 38-110 26-78
Comp-Att-Int 17-30-0 8-19-2
Passing yards 212 72
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Punts-avg 4-37.3 5-39
Penalties-yards 7-59 4-46