Centralia's Friday Night Lights Football Culture

4 years 4 months 3 weeks ago October 05, 2012 Oct 5, 2012 Friday, October 05 2012 Friday, October 05, 2012 5:17:00 PM CDT in Friday Night Fever
By: Ari Alexander
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The Centralia football team hasn't lost a regular-season game since 2005 -- and that culture of winning has bled into the culture of the community.

In Centralia, Friday nights are for football.

"Everything else is closed up," one player said. "It's pretty much just the team and the whole town there."

"(The) kids have high expectation, the community has high expectations," head coach Erle Bennett said.

For several years, the Panthers have delivered. The team is riding a 70-game regular-season win streak since losing to Blair Oaks in 2005.

Centralia lost in 2011 in the first round of the Class 2 playoffs -- the team moved to Class 3 this season -- but it doesn't appear that loss has dampened any of the excitement. Jerry Cox, quarterback for the 1953 Centralia squad, goes to every game.

"I look forward to every Friday night," he said. "I'm really looking forward to this Friday night."

And then there's Bennett, the 19-year head coach beloved by fans. His 163-44 career record, though, means other teams constantly have Centralia on theie radar.

"I feel like a deer during hunting season -- like we got a big bullseye on us all the time," Bennett said.

Centralia will look to improve to 7-0 Friday at home against undefeated Clark County

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