The Central Indians had no easy task at home taking on Lee's Summit West Titans, Missouri's top-ranked Class 5 team.
Falling behind early and unable to move the ball efficiently, the Titans cruised to a 43-0 win over the Indians.
But Central head football coach Jeff Wallace said he wants to keep everything in perspective as the season progresses.
“We have some young men who played extremely hard on this football team, and it’s obvious who those guys are,” Wallace said. “Derek (Gray) had a great night and I couldn’t be prouder of him. Sometimes there weren’t holes and he made some, found a way to get vertical and found some seams.
“There’s lot of stuff to build on,” Wallace said. “Am I very happy right now? No. But there’s one thing we all have to understand. We played the No. 1 in Class 6, and we just played the No. 1 in Class 5, and there’s nobody else doing that in the state right now. Having said that, we are going to find a way to get better, because that’s our job.”
After Central punted on its first possession of the game, Lee Summit West marched down the field with an 11-play drive that was capped off by a 23-yard touchdown pass from Thomas Ganaden to Monte Harrison.
The Titan’s first drive seemed to be a foreshadowing of things to come from a high-powered offense led by Ganaden.
After a handful of short-yard passes and a 12-yard burst by running back Thomas Palmer, the Titans found the endzone on their second drive with a three-yard touchdown run by Monte Harrison.
Central fell behind 30-0 at halftime.
Wallace said he knew what his opponent would bring defensively from one half to another in trying to make halftime adjustments.
“What was there in the first half would be there in the second half,” Wallace said. “It was a matter of catching the football, blocking somebody upfront and delivering the ball on time to where we are supposed to go. We didn’t do that in the first half, but did a little better in the second half moving the ball a couple of drives.
“There is one thing I’ve learned throughout the years,” Wallace said. “Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games. And if you don’t have that, you’re in trouble.”
Central running back Derek Gray Jr. finished with 68 rushing yards off 10 carries.
Indians quarterback Jacob Kaiser completed five passes for 40 yards, 26 of which went to receiver Traquon Cruse.
As for the Titans, Ganaden completed 13 of his 18 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Running backs Ryan Williams and DeMarcus Edwards finished with a combined 145 yards and two touchdowns.
With a 1-2 record, Gray said there are things to take away from a game like this moving forward.
“We got movement, and we’ve got a defense that is not afraid to hit anybody,” Gray said. “So throughout the rest of the season, we just have to keep getting better and working harder.”