Central has a severe case of Deja Vu.
The Indians opened the season a year ago against Friday’s opponent Kearney with an identical result — a first-game loss.
The Indians squandered two first-half chances in the red zone and eventually fell to the state-ranked Bulldogs 55-15 at Noyes Field.
“They were a completely different team a year ago. They graduated quite a bunch of kids,” Central coach Jeff Wallace said. “We had quite a few back, but it was hard to tell. We didn’t tackle very well. We didn’t execute very well on offense. We were probably a step or two behind all night on both sides of the ball.
“That is reality. That is what happened and that is where we are at.”
Kearney running back Marcus Harris slashed the Indians’ defense, scoring three times on the ground, including a long of 74 yards. Quarterback Logan Hinck threw for three more scores for Kearney, ranked No. 5 in Class 4 in the first Missouri Media poll of the season.
“We have a lot of work to do to say the least,” Wallace said. “But first of all we have to find out who is healthy and get the right people where they need to be to make plays and go from there.”
After two special team mishaps by Kearney in the first half, the Indians had two free possessions in the red zone but could muster only a 23-yard field goal from junior Austin Jackson.
“We have to execute,” Wallace said. “We just have some guys not doing the things they are suppose to do. I am just being 100 percent upfront and honest.”
Kearney, on the other hand, had little problem moving the football in the first half, scoring four times to take a 28-3 lead into the locker room.
The Bulldogs opened the third quarter with another score to stretch their lead to 32, but the Indians finally found some footing when senior Zach Matthews ripped off a sweep to the right for an 80-yard touchdown run. The Indians failed to convert the point after.
“Zach is a very good back. We have three very good backs. But when you are having to throw the ball a bit and do some different stuff it takes you out of your game,” Wallace said.
Kearney opened the fourth quarter with a score forcing the game to be played under a running clock for more than two minutes until Central quarterback Jacob Hess found junior wide out Demasjiay Cruse in the end zone for a 5-yard reception.
Again, the Indians missed the point after.
Kearney scored with under five minutes remaining to again get the clock ticking and moved to 1-0 to begin the season.
After the victory, Kearney coach Greg Jones said, despite the blowout, he saw some talented players on the Central side.
“If they get healthy by the time the dust settles at the end of the year they are going to be pretty good,” Jones said.