The question shouldn’t be how Centennial High School got rolled by one of the best prep teams in the country. The question should be whether the game should have been scheduled in the first place.
Not only was the 50-point loss to California’s Mater Dei an embarrassment to the packed stadium of fans that gathered Friday night at Centennial’s field, but it didn’t help the state of Arizona in its efforts to build its stature on the national level.
Some will argue that Centennial should be given credit for being willing to play a team like Mater Dei, which earned a spot the last two seasons as the No. 1 team in the USA Today poll that ranks the best teams in the nation, and this year sits at No 2.
And, yes, it does give the local players a look at what it takes to compete at that level, a lesson that has merit.
But, in the end, has the Centennial program lost more than it has gained? It had to be demoralizing for the players who suffered through a game that couldn’t end quickly enough. It had to be an even longer night for the parents and fans in the stands. And the 71-21 rout will likely have some effect on Centennial’s hopes of earning one of the eight spots for this year’s Open Division championship playoffs.
After Week 1, the Coyotes were ranked No. 4 on the Super 10 list that projects the teams most likely to play in the new Open Division. This week, they are No. 8 on the list. Another major loss and they may have to run the table the rest of the way to get an invite.
Centennial, the two-time defending state champion, is a good team, and once again the top-ranked team in the 5A conference. But those credentials didn’t qualify it to be the giant-killer that could compete against Mater Dei. The Coyotes did manage to beat a couple of good out-of-state teams the last couple of years, but a 12-0 score against Florida’s St. Thomas Aquinas (this year’s top-ranked by USA Today) in 2017 and a narrow 13-7 victory over Bishop Gorman from Las Vegas last season hardly qualify as big-time offensive performances.
And Mater Dei has one of the best prep quarterbacks in the country on its roster. Bryce Young threw for 527 yards Friday night, shredding the Centennial defense and was seldom under much pressure. The USC-commit aired out seven touchdowns and didn’t toss a single interception in 37 pass attempts.
Centennial’s 21 points all came in the first half, making the 50-21 Monarch lead at intermission somewhat respectable, but was unable to get on the board the last two quarters. The Coyotes ran up 239 yards of offense in the first half – 177 of those on three big plays – before Mater Dei made adjustments at the half that would hold them to just 45 yards in the second half, with 34 of those yards contributed by sophomore running back James Scott on 11 carries.
All three of Centennial’s first-half scores were set up by big plays. The first was an 8-yard TD run by senior Marc Jacob that was set up by a 66-yard run by junior QB Dax Lindholm. Junior Rashon Adams put the second score on the board by taking a six-yard pass from Lindholm into the endzone following a 54-yard run by senior Jaydin Young. And the final one-yard TD was set up by a 57-yard pass to senior Kaeden Miller.
The final humiliation to one of the worst losses Centennial football has ever suffered came late in the third quarter. That’s when they began using a rules-mandated running clock.
A welcome relief for the disappointed Centennial fans sitting in 100+ degrees. But not a good look for Arizona.