Game of the Week: South Shelby at Centralia Preview
COLUMBIA - This week's game of the week features two of the longest standing rivals in the Clarence Cannon Conference. The injury bug has struck both programs just before the halfway point of the season. South Shelby will trek down south to Centralia for what will be Week Four's premiere game. Centralia will be celebrating an anniversary, as South Shelby will attempt to rain on their parade.
Who: South Shelby Cardinals (1-2) at Centralia Panthers (2-1)
When: Friday, Sept. 20, 7 p.m.
Where: Centralia High School, 849 S. Jefferson Street, Centralia, Mo., 65240
Distance: 47.4 miles separate the schools, or about an hour and five minute drive
Significance: Centralia is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the 2003 State Championship football team. Centralia's Erle Bennett coached the team to the title and still holds the head coach role.
South Shelby Cardinals: After opening up the 2013 season with a win over Louisiana, South Shelby has failed to win in its last two attempts. Coach Rob Wilt only returns eight lettermen, four of them seniors, from the 2012 season after going 8-5. The Cardinals have suffered lots of injuries, Wilt said. Expect some young players to take starting roles this week.
"We're banged up a bit. We need to make sure we get better," Wilt said.
The Cardinals will have to combat Centralia's multiple offensive formations and be able to score against a strong defense.
"Centralia is always physical and we need to watch that," Wilt said. "Hopefully we don't get mismatched. We need to focus on things we need to do."
Player to Watch: Brett Threlkeld, junior QB - Threlkeld will be the Cardinals' main weapon on offense, and the Cardinals will need it. Threlkeld and the offense are going up against a defense that has only given up 29 points this season. At 5'9", 160 lbs, Threlkeld will need to use his explosive speed to make plays when his receivers cannot get open. The junior is good at buying time in the pocket, but his offensive line hasn't faced a team as strong as Centralia yet this season. In Week Three, Threlkeld led the conference with 23 carries for 103 yards. He will need to put up better numbers for his team to overcome the defense and spoil Centralia's celebration.
Centralia Panthers: Centralia enters the week coming off of a win versus Mark Twain, 54-8. The only loss of the season for the Panthers came in Week Two with a narrow loss to a very good Palmyra team, 24-21. Centralia returns 31 lettermen from 2012, and eight starters on both sides of the ball. Centralia head coach Erle Bennett says his team lacks depth with injuries striking the squad last week.
"We have yet to field all seven players [on the offensive line]," Bennett said. "Injuries haven't helped."
The Panthers will have the advantage this week with height. Bennett said he will be looking to take advantage of this with his receiving core and defensive backs. With the Panthers scoring an average of 44.3 points per game this season, expect nothing less than that this week. Centralia will run a pistol offensive attack utilizing the option.
The defense must contain South Shelby's quarterback Threlkeld. Bennett says the Panthers will be ready.
"We have done lots of scramble drills. We worked a lot to turn them back to our help," Bennett said.
Player to Watch: Zach Etzler, senior QB - The success of Centralia's pistol offense relies on Etzler. At 6'1", 180, Etzler threw 13-18 and three touchdowns with 187 yards against Mark Twain last week. Centralia's receiving core contains one of Etzler's favorite targets, junior Logan Armontrout. Armontrout caught four receptions for two touchdowns against Mark Twain. If Etzler can control the tempo of the game and hit his targets, the Panthers will have no problem.
Prediction: Centralia shows the 2003 State Championship team that they have hopes of heading to the Edward Jones Dome come playoff time. Centralia will separate themselves quick and won't look back. Expect the Panthers to put up points early on a young South Shelby team.
South Shelby: 14
Other game to watch: Helias (2-1) at Hickman (1-2), Friday, 7 p.m. The Hickman Kewpies want to put its start to the season to rest and earn the first home win at home against Helias. The Crusaders will have other plans though, as they look to avenge a 21-14 loss last season.
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Be sure to watch Friday Night Fever at 10 p.m on Friday night to see how your favorite team fared in week four.