RILEY — Centralia came into the 2012 season as the defending Class 2A state champions. And on Friday at Riley County, they still looked the part.
A physical Panthers team racked up nearly 300 rushing yards en route to a 28-0 shutout of the Falcons.
Centralia (2-0) quarterback J.T. Rosine was tough to stop all night, rushing 29 times for 200 yards and two touchdowns, and throwing for another as time expired in the first half.
“He’s shifty and fast and he runs really hard, that’s a good combination to have,” Riley County (0-2) coach Steve Wagner said. “And they have other guys to go along with him, they’re a good football team.”
Rosine led the Panthers 55 yards on their first drive, capping it off with a 12 yard run and a dive over the pylon to make it 7-0. A 47-yard run on Centralia’s third drive set up a 2-yard run from Sam Steinlage to make it 14-0 in the second quarter.
After a 32-yard run into Centralia territory from Riley County running back Ian Eastes, the Falcons’ best chance to get back into the game stalled out after a snap got away from QB Bryce Chavis led to a drive-killing 17-yard loss.
Centralia drove 80 yards in the last 3:30 of the first half, with Rosine tossing a 23-yard touchdown pass to Brett Burdiek as time expired.
Wagner said that play, along with the offenses’ difficulties throughout the game, made it tough to stay in the game.
“That (play) definitely deflates you, but our guys didn’t lay down in the second half,” he said. “Defensively, we held them to just one touchdown in the second half, it was just offensively we’d have a bad snap, then a turnover, then someone jumped on second and five — there is just no excuses. It’s go back to work and get better, because they were the better team (Friday).”
The Panthers opened the second half with a scoring drive, capped by Rosine’s second rushing touchdown on a 3-yard run.
Riley County would have four possessions in the second half, turning it over on its first drive and punting in the final three.
Chavis was held to 26 yards rushing and no passes in the first half, and finished the game completing 2-of-5 attempts for 8 yards, and just 38 total rushing yards. Eastes led the team with seven rushes for 57 yards, 48 of which came in the first half with 32 yards coming on one play.
Meanwhile, the combination of Rosine and Steinlage steadily grinded out the win for the Panthers.
“They are tough,” Wagner said. “Their quarterback just runs out there so hard and he does it play-after-play, and they are big and they get a good push. It just kind of wears you down. They execute well, they’ve got good athletes — they’re good.”
The Falcons will go on the road next week for a game at Silver Lake, and follow that one up with another tough game against Rossville.
Wagner said the team has to remain focused forward as the season progresses.
“You have to find the positives and build on them, and you have to find the things you can get better at,” Wagner said. “We knew with this schedule and our inexperience and youth there would be tough experiences early, and that’s what we are seeing right now. We just have to hang on through this stretch, better times are ahead.”