- Faith & Family
After enjoying turkey, dressings and all the rest on Thanksgiving, the only thing left to focus on was football. The Central Rockets hosted the Belen Jesuit Wolverines for one of the most anticipated rematches in the Region 4-6A semifinals on Friday at Traz Powell Stadium. Fans crowded the stadium expecting another back-to-back scoring battle that would end in four overtimes like the first regular season meeting between the two. Central, however, had other plans.
With an improved defensive effort, the Rockets (11-0) remained undefeated as they dominated the Wolverines 42-19. Central’s rushing game started and ended strong at the hands of sophomore running back Joseph Yearby and Dalvin Cooke. The dynamic duo finished with 353-yards — 113 from Cooke and 244 from Yearby.
Out of the gate, Yearby was Central’s go-to guy and after three carries, he scored the first touchdown on a 45-yard run. Belen, running a Wing-T offense was unable to get it going on their first possession but scored on the next on a 35-yard pass to junior running back Xavier Hines with 2:57 left in the first quarter.
The Rockets, whose scoring efforts were relentless throughout the game, finished the first quarter with a 43-yard touchdown pass to freshman receiver Devontae Phillips with the score 14-8. Belen would never have another chance, posting a 24-yard field goal to Central’s two touchdowns in the second quarter. The third quarter which left much to be desired offensively, was again Central’s with another touchdown from Phillips. Belen would score once more in the fourth but it was too little too late. This time the Rockets were able to nullify Belen’s patented double handoffs — something that almost cost them the game in their regular season matchup.
“I’m most proud of the kids fighting back,” said Central Head Coach Telly Lockette, referring to questions about the eligibility of Central Quarterback Austin Stock that could have jeopardized the team’s entire season. “I told them when you’re up against trouble meet it face-to-face and they did that.”
Central faces Palm Bay (9-3) in the regional finals this Friday at 7:30 at Traz Powell.
By Akilah Laster
Miami Times writer