'Pretty perfect' Boyle will test Central

November 18, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Central coach Steve Serotte didn't need many words to describe Boyle County's football team.

"Great, great, great," Serotte said. "They play mistake-free football. They are disciplined. They use a lot of formations. They have great pursuit on defense. They fly to the ball. They are a pretty perfect program."

Boyle has been "pretty perfect" the last five years while winning five straight state titles and 73 of 75 games. This year the Rebels are 10-2, but once again they are on track to win a state championship going into Friday's Class AAA, Region 2 title game with Central (10-2).

"They are pretty good on offense, but the strength of their team is on defense," Boyle coach Chuck Smith said.

Central has five shutouts and has limited two other opponents to just one touchdown. Central gave up 47 points in losses to Shelby County (24-21) and Male (23-20) to open the season, but has allowed just 59 points in its last 10 games.


Two standout defensive ends

Smith says Central has an outstanding pair of defensive ends in James McKinney, one of the state's top Division I recruits, and junior Cory Peters.

"Peters is really good," Serot-te said. "He's probably played better this year for us than James. Against a team like Boyle, you better have some ends that can create pressure or your defense will not fly."

Smith says Central senior linebacker Erick Clark "might be the best linebacker we have faced all year because he really covers a lot of ground."

McKinney has impressed the Boyle coach, too.

"He looks the part of the state's most recruited player," Smith said. "He is a big, strong, fast kid. I understand why so many Division I teams have offered him a scholarship. He can take one side of the field away from you.

"Their whole defensive front is big. We have to outsmart them. We have to block low. If we try to block them up high, they will just throw us around. They are the best defensive team we have played since Highlands. They have skilled people to cover you, and they are big."

Still, Central only beat Waggener 17-14 three weeks ago, and Boyle routed Waggener 55-10 last week. Serotte says Boyle easily has the best offense his team will have faced because of quarterback Brandon Smith. He went over the 8,000-yard career passing mark last week and is 173-for-271 this season for 2,754 yards and 37 touchdowns.

Seth Tamme had six catches for 206 yards and three scores last week. He has 53 receptions for 1,080 yards and 13 touchdowns and tight end Evan Teague has 37 catches for 549 yards and 11 scores.

"Boyle spreads you out, and he (Brandon Smith) gets rid of the ball quick. Their receivers run great routes and know how to exploit your defense," Serotte said. "You cannot let him stand back there and throw the football or they are going to beat you."

Averaging 36.5 points a game

Central's offense has not been as potent, but it still averages 36.5 points per game. Quarterback Xavier Braxton is completing 40 percent of his passes, but averages 19 yards per completion and has 19 touchdown passes. He's also rushed for almost 700 yards, tops on the team, and averages 6.2 yards per run.

"Our quarterback has learned our system and executes what we expect," Serotte said. "He's been able to turn some bad plays into good plays. He's not forcing things."

Receiver Damond Thompson averages 25 yards per reception and has six touchdown catches. Anthony Burns is the team's top receiver with 27 catches for 257 yards and five scores.

"They throw a lot of deep balls. (Braxton) is a good quarterback and is in charge of their offense," Smith said. "He's a left-handed passer and does a good job, but he also uses his speed to scramble well. He can pass and run.

"Their receivers and running backs have impressed me, too. They are not one-dimensional at all. Rico Neal has a lot of speed at running back and George Simms is a power runners. They are balanced and put a lot of pressure on the defense. The last few teams we have played have been one dimensional, but they are not and that makes them a lot tougher to defend."

Boyle will be without safety Casey Brummett against Central. He injured his knee last week and could possibly play if the Rebels advance to next week's semifinals.

Smith says he'll likely start junior Hagen Smith, who was the starter early in the season.

"He just has to step up and play. He has people counting on him and I have confidence in him," the Boyle coach said. "He can do the job. He did it last year when we won and is capable of making the plays we need to win."

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