Center powers past Lincoln Prep
By Toriano Porter PrepsKC Staff Writer
Lincoln Prep head coach Henry Newell commanded his team’s attention inside the home locker room at Interscholastic Stadium.
Draped in sweat-stained royal blue jerseys and matching pants, some players heads hanged dejectedly while others tried their best to keep theirs high and eyes glued on their coach.
Newell gathered the Blue Tigers to impart some words of wisdom after a mistake-filled, 35-6 loss Friday to visiting Center.
Hopefully, Newell said, the pep talk registered with his short-handed squad.
“We’re short six starters,” Newell said after Lincoln Prep fell to 2-2 on the season. “We lost six starters against Oak Grove last week. I didn’t have five (of the six) starters even in pads. That was part of the problem.”
The Blue Tigers, two-time defending IL champions, are 2-0 in league play but have dropped consecutive games to non-league opponents Oak Grove and Center.
“We knew that these two games would be tough,” Newell said. “From here on out we have no excuse. Competition won't be that stiff from here on out.”
Center head coach Bryan DeLong had very little complaints after the Yellow Jackets improved to 4-0 on the season. They are 1-0 in West Central League play with a conference game on tap next week against St. Pius X.
“I'm proud of the kids coming out and being ready to play,” Delong said. “From the get go...they were paying attention to detail.”
Miscues in the kicking game was Lincoln Prep’s undoing. The Blue Tigers were down two scores before their offense took a snap from under center.
Center’s Tony Caldwell took the opening kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown. A successful extra point made it 7-0 just 15 seconds into the game.
On the ensuing kickoff Center recovered a squib kick that caromed off a Lincoln Prep player.
Four plays later Center quarterback Raheem Muhammad connected with wide receiver Ronnie Thomas for a 29-yard scoring pass. The extra point made it 14-0 less than three minutes into the game.
“Jumping up on that 14-0 lead was (huge),” DeLong said.
More shoddy play in the kicking game left the Blue Tigers down by four scores at halftime.
First a 22-yard Lincoln Prep punt allowed Center to score on a 3-play, 38-yard drive.
Later, a 44-yard punt by Lincoln was returned 14 yards to Lincoln’s 47-yard line. Forty-four seconds later a stout Caldwell burst around right edge for a 29-yard scoring run helped Center extend its lead to 28-0 with 4:09 left in the second quarter.
“(Caldwell) makes our offense go,” DeLong said. “Tony is a darn good running back. He’s got great vision and he has that low center of gravity. He’s a pretty powerful kid.”
Lincoln finally cracked the scoreboard after a 14-play, 89-yard drive capped by fullback Jabari Hopson’s 1-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.
“We need to come out to practice (next week) focused and execute,” Hopson said after the loss. “We lost a few players last game and adversity hit. We just need to step it up and work.”
Caldwell capped a three-touchdown night with a 4-yard scoring run to help push Center’s lead to 35-6 with 10:16 left in the game.
“The line did and good job and so did everyone else,” the senior running back said. “They were talking a lot of stuff during the preseason, so we came out here and showed them what we do.”
Lincoln Prep continues its non-league slate next week on the road against University Academy.
“We’ve seen them play,” Newell said of UA. “They’re not bad, but I don’t think they’re the caliber of these guys (Center) or Oak Grove. Oak Grove is a real tough football team.”
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