High School Football: Central Looks to Close Regular Season Perfect
SAN ANGELO, TX-- Central is on the verge of a second consecutive undefeated regular season. The Bobcats will put that perfect 9-0 record on the line when they host the Amarillo Tascosa Rebels (6-3, 2-3) this Friday.
Looking at records, the 14th-ranked Bobcats will be favored, by a long shot. But what will happen in the game come Friday night?
Offense: Advantage Central, slightly
Central's offense has been great this season, putting up 3,854 yards over the course of their nine games. But Tascosa's run-heavy offense isn't too far behind them at 3,497 total yards.
These two offenses are closely matched. Central is putting up an average of 428.2 yards per game and Tascosa is right there with the Bobcats at 388.6 yards per game. The two teams have even put up similar point totals this season with Central putting up 378 points and Tascosa putting up 368.
Central's offense has a leg up on Tascosa, though. The Bobcats have had a much more balanced offense this season, throwing the ball 55 percent of the time and rushing for 1,377 yards this season. That means teams can't key on just one aspect of Central's offense. Tascosa is extremely one dimensional, running the ball 89 percent of the time this year.
But Central's offense has been relying heavily the last two weeks on junior quarterback Maverick to jumpstart the run game. Over the course of those two weeks, the dual-threat quarterback has carried 75 percent of the Bobcat's 44 rushes for 129 yards. That may give the defense something to key on. It will be huge if running backs De'Marcus Cobb and Bobby Pena can get going this week. The duo has carried the ball 10 times for 31 yards over the last two weeks.
McIvor will be the focal point again this week as the Bobcats face a stout passing defense. For the Bobcats to be successful, either McIvor needs to continue passing the ball well as he has done all season despite the tough defense in front of him or Central must get their aforementioned ground game going.
Tascosa, on the other hand, doesn't mind being one dimensional. The Rebel's offense is an old school, ground-and-pound and that's the way they like it. The rebels are averaging 347.6 yards per game on the ground and have scored 46 rushing touchdowns.
Behind Tascosa's success on the ground this year has been an interchangeable backfield with six different backs rushing the ball more than 20 times this season. Two pieces that stand our are junior quarterback Connor Mcanaul and senior running back Lamaron Smith. Mcanaul has roughly 30 percent of Tascosa's carries this season for a team leading 664 yards. The junior also has six rushing touchdowns to his credit. Smith is first on the team for touchdowns with 11 and second for yards with 604. While Tascosa has a stable of capable backs, their team does as these two do. If Central can stop them, it will be a long night for the Rebels.
Defense: Advantage Central, slightly
Both teams are good at stopping what the other's offense is good at. Central is allowing 191 yards per game on the ground. Tascosa is allowing 111 yards per game passing.
That could set this game up to be a defensive struggle.
For Central to win the struggle, their defensive front will need to continue to play at the high level they've been playing at. Central boasts 72 tackles for a loss and 37 sacks this season. Tascosa only has 10 tackles for a loss and hasn't registered a sack this season, according to MaxPreps. Heading up Central's defensive dominance in the backfield is Nick Hernandez. The senior has tallied seven sacks and 11 tackles for a loss, leading the Bobcats in both categories.
Another way for Central to come out on top is to win the turnover battle. Central has a +3 turnover margin while Tascosa has a +1 margin. Central has done well at creating turnovers with 16 takeaways on the year. Tascosa has just three takeaways in 2017.
Much like last week, Central is going to have to earn this win against a team that has a possible playoff berth on the line. But Central's defense should step up once again and help the Bobcats finish the year with a 10 in the win column.
Prediction: Central 28, Tascosa 14.