KOKOMO Central Catholic sophomore Carlos Velasquez said the butterflies stayed away for his first varsity start — until just before the opening kickoff.
So how could the Knights’ upperclassmen help their young teammate feel more at ease?
If you’re senior Brandon Yeagy, you scoop up Northwestern’s game-opening onside kick and return it 53 yards for a touchdown. If you’re senior Adam Lovell, you intercept a pass on the Tigers’ third play from scrimmage and take it 39 yards for another score.
And if you’re senior Jackson Anthrop, when Velasquez chases down an errant snap on third-and-long and tosses to you in desperation, you reverse field for a long gain that sets up first-and-goal and your eventual touchdown run.
For the second straight week, Class A No. 1 Central Catholic scored from each phase in the opening minutes, sparking a 49-6 victory over Northwestern.
“It starts Monday at practice when we start putting in our game plan,” Lovell said. “We build energy all week and we want to let it out on Friday.”
The opening eruption nearly mirrored Central Catholic’s start from a week earlier, in a 61-0 victory over Benton Central. A kickoff return touchdown, fumble return touchdown and touchdown pass put the Knights up 21-0 after one offensive snap.
But a knee injury knocked starting quarterback Avery Denhart out of that game and thrust Velasquez under center.
The lefty completed 10 of 13 passes in the first half for 105 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown hookup with Luke Fusiek. He also lost a fumble while taking a sack. CC coach Kevin O’Shea said he’s confident in Velasquez’s abilities while Denhart is expected to miss another three games.
Velasquez said he has plenty to feel confident about as well.
“We have a running back who averages almost a first down per carry, and that offensive line – on my blindside I have a DI lineman,” Velasquez said of Jackson Anthrop and Coy Cronk, respectively. “And I can make 5-yard passes to receivers who turn them into 50 yards.”
A late Northwestern touchdown prevented Central Catholic from extending its shutout streak to four games. But the Knights had more takeaways in the first quarter (four) than Northwestern had first downs in the first half (three). The Tigers managed only 40 first-half yards while Central Catholic built a 49-0 lead.
“We haven’t played this team in a long time, so we had to come out and make a statement,” said Yeagy, who also rushed for 63 yards on just five carries. “It shows that we’ve been working hard and doing our jobs.”