ROARING SPRING - One game does not a season make, but the Central Scarlet Dragons opened the 2013 scholastic football season in impressive style Friday night.
The Dragons' offense features several skill players and their defense was dominant, too, in a 33-6 rout of Chestnut Ridge before a standing-room-only crowd at the Roaring Spring Athletic Field.
"It was a pretty good game," Central coach Dave Baker said. "They're a pretty good team. They don't give you anything. You've got to work for it."
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Central’s Bradi Moore catches a TD pass as Ridge’s Bryan Feather defends.
"We got beat by a better team," Ridge coach Max Shoemaker said, offering no excuses for his defending District 5 Class AA champions. "They handled us in all aspects of the game."
Central's offensive catalyst was quarterback Austin Cunningham, who accounted for four touchdowns. Cunningham rushed for 105 yards and scored two TDs on runs of 4 and 26 yards. The 5-foot-9, 173-pounder completed 7-of-14 passes for 34 yards and tossed a 6-yard TD strike to Bradi Moore to open the scoring. Lined up as a flanker, Cunningham also caught a 14-yard TD pass from sophomore QB Noah Benton in the third period.
Moore also had a big night, rushing for 88 yards on 14 carries and catching four passes for 59 yards. Besides scoring the opening TD on a pass from Cunningham, Moore capped the Dragons' scoring on a 1-yard dive in the fourth quarter. He also completed a pass for 32 yards and returned three punts for 122 yards.
"When we can block for them consistently and get them room, they're pretty good," Baker said of his offensive tandem.
"Those are two outstanding athletes," Shoemaker said of Cunningham and Moore. "We missed a ton of tackles in the first game last year. It was like "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and I saw flashbacks tonight."
Defensively, Central limited Ridge to 150 yards, 64 of which came when the Lions scored against the Dragons' reserves in the fourth quarter. Beau Bosch tallied Ridge's TD on a 13-yard scamper with 2:30 to play, but the talented QB was held in check most of the night and didn't complete a pass.
"We thought he was pretty good," Baker said, "and you have to take him away [from their offense]. We tried to keep him running laterally and didn't let him turn up field. He's a big strong kid and was a manager - just a little kid - when I was coaching out there. He's really grown up."
"They had a nice scheme and took everything away that we do well," Shoemaker said. "We wanted to spread them, but couldn't do it effectively. They had eight and nine men in the box and shut down the running game, too."
Baker was pleased with his defense, noting, that linebacker Austin Conrath is coming off a concussion and hasn't practiced much.
"Conrath and Zac Emerick are good, and a couple kids in the middle, Tyler Miller, plus Adam Frederick and Jared Ponder are good players," he said. "They aren't real big, but they're really tough and really smart. If they're going to fight a bear, you better give the bear a stick."
Game notes: A new scoreboard, sponsored by VFW Post 7689, was unveiled prior to the game. ... Three families - the Conlons, Mocks and Gates - all of whom have been past, present and future players and coaches at Central, were introduced. ... Fireworks greeted the Dragons as they came onto the field. ... Central visits Tyrone next Friday while Ridge travels to Pittsburgh to face Carrick.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Chestnut Ridge0 0 0 6 - 6
Central14 6 7 6 - 33
C-Moore 6 pass from Cunningham (kick failed), 5:30.
C-Cunningham 4 run (Conrath run), :30.4.
C-Cunningham 26 run (Kick failed), 8:21.
C-Cunningham 14 pass from Benton (Mellott kick), 2:35.
C-Moore 1 run (kick failed), 7:39.
CR-Bosch 13 run (kick failed), 2:30.
RUSHING: Chestnut Ridge-Bosch 21-81, Wiley 11-41, Bowser 2-29, Lohr 2-(-1). Central-Cunningham 11-105, Moore 14-88, Conrath 6-20, Benton 2-8, Emerick 2-7, Shirey 2-(-5).
PASSING: Chestnut Ridge-Bosch 0-7-0-0. Central-Cunningham 7-14-0-34, Benton 2-3-0-54, Moore 1-2-0-32.
RECEIVING: Central-Moore 4-59, Mock 1-32, Emerick 1-13, Forshey 1-9, Conrath 1-(-5), Cunningham 1-14, Helsel 1-(-1).