Eli McDaniel | social media editor
Charger football ended an exceptional regular season last week with a dramatic 45-40 win over Centralia.
After surging ahead 21-7 in the first quarter, Centralia tightened the game to one possession, 28-20, with five minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Chargers converted a turnover into a touchdown for a 45-28 lead with 11 minutes remaining, but Centralia wasn’t finished. An 80-yard touchdown pass and another score cut the lead to just five.
After failing to control the ball, Wabaunsee punted with 2:09 remaining, giving the Panthers a final chance to take the lead.
Fortunately, the Charger defense held, and a sack on fourth down sealed the victory.
“It was amazing. I knew that they were really good. When we took a knee to run out the clock it was a phenomenal feeling,” sophomore Zach Frank said.
Centralia had not lost a district game since 2017 before falling to the Chargers. Coach Jess Rutledge said the victory is an important milestone for the team.
“It was huge, they hadn’t lost a district game in five years. They had kind of been that team in the area that a lot of them strived to beat because of their success, and it’s huge for our program to know that not only can we compete with but beat teams like that. Especially as we are about ready to enter into the playoffs.”
A 6-2 record, the Chargers’ first winning season since 1997, would not have been possible without some outstanding performances.
Senior Cade Oliver threw for more than 300 yards Friday again and is very close to having more than 5,000 career passing yards. Senior Braydon Meseke got seven catches for 161 yards and a couple of touchdowns.
Meseke said, “I’m happy with how I’ve played this year. I have a lot of confidence in myself as well as my team and that has really helped up my game. I feel good about playoffs as well. We are really solid at every position and when I look at our team I don’t see a weak spot, which makes it harder for teams to plan for us.”
Rutledge had lots of praise for younger members of the team as well. “Zach Frank did a heck of a job carrying the ball last week as a sophomore. Tate Deevers leads the team in tackles for the year as a sophomore. Wyatt Wurtz led the team in tackles last week with 15 also as a sophomore. Bryton Reeves obtained his first varsity touchdown against Horton and Logan Clark secured his first Varsity touchdown last week against Centralia as well.”
The team moves on to the playoffs, hosting 0-7 Northern Heights Thursday night.
“If we win on Thursday, it’ll be the second year in a row we’ve won in the first round and it’ll be the first time in school history we’ve won playoff games in back-to-back years.” Rutledge said.
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