CHAMPAIGN – Not since Week 4 of the 2006 season had Champaign Central's football team walked off the field victorious.
And not in more than half a century had the Maroons put such a beating on Friday's longtime rival.
Central thumped Urbana 49-6 at Tommy Stewart Field, the most lopsided score in the 102-game series since Champaign's 45-0 win in 1949.
Pardon Central coach Dave Jacobs if it felt like 1949 since his team had won a game.
"We need a game like this to give us confidence," Jacobs said.
Especially on offense. In the Maroons' final seven games of 2006, they scored a combined 43 points. And the offense managed a paltry 87 yards in last week's loss to Normal Community.
On Friday, they scored seven touchdowns to go with 238 yards, an obvious step forward.
"We didn't take a step – I think we took a leap," fullback Tyler Finkbeiner said. "We took a big leap from last week."
Sophomore running back Denzel Stewart rushed for touchdowns the first three times he touched the ball, from 49, 8 and 9 yards. Finkbeiner, another sophomore, caught two TD passes from sophomore Doug Kyrouac, including a 40-yard rumble.
"We needed the points," Jacobs said. "We've been in a drought since, well, since I can remember. Our defense is strong. We've got to get our offense going with some confidence."
The defense surrendered 134 yards with Urbana's lone score set up when the Maroons fumbled on their own 12.
While running back Jordan Johnson (48 yards) and Finkbeiner are the grinders, Stewart (eight carries, 88 yards) provides the flash. He's a breakaway threat whenever he touches the ball, and he'll touch it more when the defense dictates it.
"I look at how the defense is defending us," said Jacobs, who calls the plays. "And like I tell our players, sometimes I don't decide who gets the ball. The defense decides who gets the ball. That's what we're trying to get our team to buy into."
For his part, Stewart has one aim when he gets it.
"I like to think above and beyond just going for the first down," said Stewart, who had 71 yards on nine carries against Normal Community last week. "I like to think about the touchdown."
In his third season, Jacobs said he can see signs of the program reaching the place he envisioned. Urbana coach Mike Hoskins hopes his team is on a similar path.
Hoskins said the Tigers played better than they did in last week's 21-0 defeat against Danville, although the score might not show it. Urbana trailed 35-0 at halftime then recovered an onside kick and played an encouraging second half.
"I thought our kids played hard. We're just undermanned right now," Hoskins said. "We knew coming in here it wasn't going to be an easy task. We graduated some pretty good athletes off a 1-8 squad. We don't have visions of grandeur. At the same time, we've got some kids that, if they stay focused and keep scratching, we'll find a way to get better each game."
Justin Kwiatkowski rushed for 77 yards and Antonio Jones added 60 for the Tigers.
"Antonio Jones is a special player, it's just really difficult (because) we can't get him enough room right now," Hoskins said. "We're limited with some of the things we can do."