CENTERBURG – “That was a butt-kicking.”
A single sentence from a coach rarely sums up an entire game. But, from the perspective of Centerburg football coach Andy Colella, it was right on target.
The visiting Ontario Warriors held the ball for nearly 33 minutes Friday, outgaining the Trojans 439-112 and forcing four turnovers en route to a 35-0 shutout.
There was little doubt from the beginning that this was Ontario’s night.
After the Trojans (1-1) returned the opening kickoff to the Ontario 35, they failed to get a first down. The Warriors took over and drove the length of the field, ending with an 8-yard touchdown run by quarterback Bodpegn Miller.
On the next play from scrimmage, Ontario recovered a Centerburg fumble. The Warriors scored again four plays later, this time on a 1-yard dive by Chase Studer.
It never got better for the Trojans.
“We had our opportunities, but the mistakes on our end … we couldn’t convert,” Colella said. “When you battle a good football team like that, and you don’t convert first downs, it’s tough to battle back.”
Ontario returned nearly every starter from last season’s 6-5 team, which qualified for the Division III playoffs. The experience showed, especially at the line of scrimmage, where the Warriors pushed the Trojans around throughout the game.
“We preached all week in practice that we had to match their physical play, and we did that,” Ontario first-year head coach Aaron Eckert said. “Football is won and lost in the trenches, and we expect a lot from them.
“Our O-line and D-line set the tone. And if the game gets close, we count on them to make the difference.”
Late in the first half, Miller threw a lateral to Peyton Dzugan, who completed a 53-yard touchdown pass to Quinton Frankhouse to give Ontario a 28-0 lead going into the half.
“The offensive staff had that one drawn out, and we executed that to perfection,” Eckert said.
Centerburg managed four first downs in the first half, though three of them came from Ontario penalties. The team’s only big plays came on a second-quarter pass from Jesse Rings to Caylan LeMaster that netted 37 yards, and a LeMaster run late in the game for 28 yards.
Rings finished the game with eight completions on 19 attempts for 75 yards. LeMaster had 24 rushing yards on nine attempts.
If the Warriors struggled anywhere, it was in avoiding the watchful eyes of the officials. Ontario had 12 penalties for 110 yards. Those penalties directly led to five of Centerburg’s nine first downs for the game.
Miller finished 10-of-18 for 154 yards in the air. Studer led the ground assault with 89 yards on 19 carries for two touchdowns, including a 24-yard carry in the second quarter.
Miller completed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Floyd late in the third quarter to finish the scoring and set a running clock for the rest of the game.
Ontario (2-0) is the only Division III school on Centerburg’s schedule this season. This is the first time the two teams have met in at least three decades.
Colella compared this loss to one his team suffered on Week 1 last season, when the Trojans were upset by Utica, 25-19.
“We were in a similar situation, and we battled back,” Colella said, referring to how Centerburg went unbeaten for the rest of the regular season. “We have to learn from our mistakes.
“There’s enough guys in the locker room who were through this last year, and there were guys who stepped up.”
Ontario hosts Madison Comprehensive next Friday. The Trojans travel to Worthington Christian.