Central Looking to Get Back on Track Against Historic Rival
SAN ANGELO, TX-- The Central Bobcats face their most common opponent and historical rival, Abilene High, this week at Shotwell Stadium.
Officially, the Bobcats and Eagles have met 87 times with Abilene holding a 44-40-3 advantage in the all-time series. The schools also played each other before Central officially started organized football in 1919.
“It’s always fun to play Abilene,” Central head coach Brent Davis said. “It’s a rival game for both of us. It’s our closest 6A school in the state … We’ve gotta go to Abilene, which is always tough to do.”
On the heels of a lopsided loss to Euless Trinity, Davis feels his young team is better for the experience they got in their last four games.
“Even in our loss to Euless, I think we’re a better football team,” Davis said. “We found out some things that some kids can do. We had some kids play that hadn’t played a whole lot. We’re getting better each time we go out. We’re getting better each time we go out and practice.
“Because of injuries and other circumstances, we’ve got a really really young football team now. It was young to begin with and now it’s extremely young. So, we’re gonna get better. The kids are working hard, everybody’s got the right attitude. I’m excited about it.”
Last year, the Bobcats took down Abilene 42-28 to open the season and have won the last three meetings. Abilene last won in 2015.
Central (4-2, 1-1) and Abilene (5-1, 2-0) are very similar on paper.
Both operate out of the spread, both are relentless and both have historic programs.
However, Abilene is in its fourth year under head coach Del Van Cox compared to Davis, who’s in year 10 of his stay at Central. Abilene’s head coach took over in 2015 after longtime head coach Steve Warren retired in 2015.
Through Van Cox’s now-four years, the Eagles have gone 26-14 with one district championship. His fourth year looks to be as promising as his first three.
Central’s head coach is familiar with Abilene’s head man and knows what to expect from the Eagles.
“You’re gonna always get a really good [Abilene] team, man,” Davis said. “They’re well-coached, disciplined and play hard. They do exactly what their coaches ask of them. We’ve got real similar programs, real similar type kids and he’s a good friend of mine, a good coach. It’s fun to compete against each other.”
Although the Bobcats won the last meeting, the two teams are “quite a bit” different according to Davis.
Both teams have different quarterbacks from a year ago.
Maverick McIvor, a junior at the time, led the Bobcats to the season-opening win in 2017. His season ended with a knee injury in week 2 of 2018 and Malachi Brown took over to navigate Central through the gauntlet of their schedule.
Abilene is in a similar position.
Junior QB Eric Abbe won the Eagles’ starting position in fall camp. He then went down with a knee injury in Abilene’s season opener against Amarillo Tascosa, opening the door for senior Kallin Sipe.
While you could argue that the four starts Brown made were tougher, Sipe has guided the Eagles to five-straight wins.
“He’s doing good,” Davis said of Sipe. “He’s running their offense well. He throws it pretty good. He runs it [good] … He’s a little bit better runner, maybe, than he is a thrower, but he can do both. He runs their offense well and they’ve scored a lot of points.”
The Eagles put up a season-high mark of 48 points in their win over Richland two weeks ago and are averaging 28 points per game since Sipe took over as the starter.
“That tells you something, right there, when they’re scoring the points that they’re scoring,” Davis said. “They’ve got a good offense and [Sipe] runs it. He’s a guy you’ve gotta worry about.”
On the other side, Brown, a sophomore, has shown incredible poise for a young quarterback.
More times than not, if a young QB throws a pick six in a big game like Brown had against Euless Trinity, they will get down on themselves and the game begins to snowball.
Brown is one of the few who won’t shy away after a mistake. Davis feels that mentality is big for his team.
“I just think he’s comfortable now,” Davis said of Brown. “He knows what we need on the field. We’ve got our offense kind of where we want to be, as far as the things he does well. I thought he played well [against Trinity] except the picks. And one of them wasn’t his fault. The other two were.”
Davis added that, because Central throws the ball a lot, interceptions are going to happen.
Getting to 2-1 in District 3-6A is crucial for the Bobcats with the top five teams separated by 1 ½ games in the standings. Haltom, who was idle in week 6, is a half-game behind fourth-place Central.
“It is wide open, except Euless [Trinity] is probably the cream of the crop,” Davis said of the district. “I think the rest of us are battling … Us and Abilene is a big game because they’re sitting there at 2-0 and we’re at 1-1 … I think everybody is pretty even, I really do.”
Abilene and Central kick off at 7:30 p.m. from Shotwell Stadium.
Get more stories like this by signing up for our daily newsletter, The LIVE! Daily.