Oak Park season ends at St. Joseph Central
By Cody Thorn The St. Joseph News-Press
Derek Gray needed only one play to make his presence felt.
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The third-seeded Indians scored on its first four possessions, which including three touchdowns from Gray, who ran for 142 yards.
The win advances Central to the district semifinals against Staley, a team they have yet to topple in three meetings — including a season-ending 48-27 loss in the district semifinals last season.
Central (6-4) plays at Staley (5-4) for the third time in four meetings on Wednesday.
“We are very excited,” said Gray, who also amassed 69 yards receiving and a score. “They ended our season down there. We watched film on Oak Park and also against Staley, when they played each other. We got to have the same preparation we had this week on Wednesday. I feel like we have a great chance ... it will be a good game.”
Gray caught the first of Jacob Kaiser’s three touchdown passes on Central’s first drive, a 15-yarder which came five plays after his initial 42-yard carry.
The Indians turned an Oak Park fumble into points when Kaiser hit Tyler Reed for a 23-yard strike. The sixth-seeded Northmen (2-8) fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Central needed four plays to score after recovering; Gray ran in for a 20-yard scores.
Gray added a 12-yard run in the second quarter — following his 54-yard reception on a bubble screen — to push the Indians’ lead to 33-0 at halftime and account for his fourth straight 100-yard game.
Kaiser, 6-for-10 for 183 yards, added a 68-yard touchdown pass to Ceyonte Bell later in the second stanza. The Indians enjoyed success running the ball early, but once Oak Park started stacking seven or eight defenders in the box to slow down Gray, Kaiser took over.
Central’s standout senior running back dashed 42 yards on his first carry, an omen of things to come for the Oak Park defense, as the Indians rolled to a 47-0 victory in the first round of Class 5 District 8 play at Noyes Field.
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