- Faith & Family
The former 2010 state champion Central Rockets’ fuel was low at the incipient moments of their return to the Class 6A state final last Saturday against Armwood High School at the Citrus Bowl. Appearing frantic and unprepared their play did not resemble the formerly undefeated team that pummeled through almost every noteworthy Dade County team during the regular season. Central (14-1) was shutout in the first quarter as the Armwood (15-0) defense collapsed on every rushing play and senior quarterback Austin Stock threw two interceptions that led to a 0-16 beginning. Central would never be able to rebound and left the stadium with their first loss of the season, 40-31.
“[Stock] had to be mistake free in a game like this,” Central head coach, Telly Lockette said. “I told him to keep his head in the game and stay positive.”
Stock had no completions and Central rushed for only 39yards in the first quarter, including a 32-yard run by sophomore running back Joseph Yearby.
Central had overcome a 17-point deficit to win last year’s state title but could not repeat those efforts.
“Our offense didn’t’ help the defense out,” Lockette said. “Turnovers put the defense in bad situations.”
Inconsistent play, turnovers and penalties-including a intentional down call on the final Rocket offensive possession, kept pressure on the Central defense to make big plays. But fatigue and mental defeat kicked in as they allowed the Hawks to score on an 80-yard pass play. Central fans quieted as their state title hopes dwindled.
Tears began to flood the Rocket sideline as junior kicker Emilio Nadelman kneeled with his face in his towel, understanding the devastating reality of the game. As the coach gathered his team after the game he was brought to tears as well.
“I could see tears on their face and they fought back so hard,” Lockette said. “In life you’re going to have adversity, but you will come back.”
“We’ll be back,” he added.
By Akilah Laster