Maroons dominate Chargers in Saturday morning showcase

Maroons dominate Chargers in Saturday morning showcase

CHAMPAIGN — Tim Turner’s upbeat mindset quickly has found a home among his first-ever group of Champaign Central football athletes.

When a Week 2 game between the Maroons and crosstown rival Centennial was pushed to 8 a.m. Saturday as a safety measure following the Tuesday shooting death of a 16-year-old Central student, the tragedy and subsequent shift in kickoff could have derailed Turner’s crew.

Ask any Central player why that didn’t happen, and it becomes clear Turner is making a mark on this bunch.

“Football is football whenever,” junior Tarell Evans asid. “What Coach T says, whatever the place, whatever the time, we’re going to show up and play.”

In this case, the Maroons showed up and dominated against their Unit 4 rival.

Evans bulled his way to 124 yards and two touchdowns on just six carries, senior quarterback Luke McMahon added a pair of rushing scores and Central blitzed Centennial 48-21 in two programs’ first game at revamped Tommy Stewart Field.

“These guys have worked their tails off all summer,” said Turner, who gained his first career victory as a head coach. “For them to have the opportunity to have some success, especially against this team, is huge.”

Senior Jalen Booker hit the end zone twice as well for the Maroons (1-1, 1-0 Big 12 Conference), who responded to an early Chargers touchdown by rattling off 48 consecutive points.

Centennial (0-2, 0-2) struggled through because of a variety of errors. Two in particular sealed the Chargers’ fate, happening within minutes of one another.

First came a second-quarter fumble that left Central in the red zone. One drive later came an ill-advised series of laterals that ended with Booker scooping up another fumble and scoring as the first-half clock struck triple zeros.

That sequence boosted the Maroons’ advantage from 28-7 to 42-7 entering the locker room at halftime.

“Just too many doggone mistakes,” Chargers coach Lekevie Johnson said. “We’ve got a whole season ahead of us. This one is over. You can’t unscramble an egg.”

For all its struggles, Centennial experienced a great start to the morning. Junior Kendall Green returned the opening kick to the Central 34-yard line, and senior Nick Quattrone punched in an 11-yard touchdown run four plays later.

But that was the last substantial positive for the Chargers until a running clock was deployed in the third quarter after Central went ahead 48-7.

Evans broke off scoring dashes of 4 and 69 yards to push Central ahead 15-7 through one period. Junior Connor Milton plunged in from 19 yards to open the second frame, McMahon posted successive 4-yard rushing touchdowns before the break and Booker notched a 1-yarder later on.

“I feel like we’re all explosive and got our own unique strengths,” Evans said. “I was seeing great blocks. Then just (had) to be patient and let plays develop.”

The Chargers have plenty to work on ahead of another Big 12 tilt, Friday at home against Peoria Richwoods (1-1, 1-1).

The Maroons, meanwhile, possess bundles of good energy for their Friday trip to Peoria Notre Dame (0-2, 0-2).

Considering the latest edition of Central-Centennial began on a somber note, the Maroons are glad to take this development.

“It doesn’t matter if we’re playing on a Friday or a Sunday,” McMahon said. “We knew they were going to play their hearts out and it wasn’t going to be an easy game, but we thought we could do it.”