GREELEY — The schedule gods did no favors for the Centaurus football team this season, as the Warriors have opened against a bevy of formidable foes.
That trend continued Saturday, but the string of blowout losses did not.
The Warriors competed gamely until the final minutes against No. 9 Northridge at District 6 Stadium before eventually running out of gas in a 17-7 loss to the Grizzlies.
“We came out and you saw what we could do in the first quarter, but we got tired,” Centaurus coach Chad Senseney said. “We don’t have a lot of depth right now, and that was the telltale factor aside from playing a ranked team.”
Centaurus (0-4) has several players who go both ways anyway, and also had a lengthy injury report entering the Class 3A nonleague contest. Playmaking receiver Matt Wright was on that list, as were a gaggle of linemen including senior leader Brad Lowry.
It seemed to matter little early, as the Warriors marched 69 yards on their opening drive and scored on J.J. Scott’s 1-yard run out of the wildcat formation.
Scott remained effective from the formation throughout the first half and Centaurus took a 7-3 lead into intermission. The upset alert was on, but the Warriors had three-and-outs on their first four possessions of the second half and managed only one first down in the second half.
“It’s encouraging in that we know we’ve gotten a lot better each week,” said Scott, who rushed for 58 of his 65 yards in the first half. “We’re looking forward to next week and we’re hoping to put it all together.”
After surrendering at least 40 points in each of the first three games, the Centaurus defense held its own against a pass-heavy Northridge unit that typically has no problems finding the end zone. Grizzlies quarterback Robert Fulton threw a third-quarter touchdown to tight end Michael Graff to make it 10-7, then clinched things with a short strike to Blake Karlin in the fourth.
It wasn’t easy for the Grizzlies (4-0), who were held to 80 yards on the ground with Centaurus’ defensive lineman Michael Devries often in the offensive backfield. After a hit-and-miss first half in which he was picked off by the Warriors’ Tanner Martinelli, Fulton finished 21 for 36 for 237 yards and the two touchdowns.
“Every week it’s just about taking the next step,” Devries said. “We don’t have a lot of guys, obviously, so that made it tough. It really stinks in that it’s a close loss, but we have no reason to hang our heads because we just competed with a top-10 team.”
Centaurus quarterback David Shald completed 11 of 14 passes, but for only 61 yards as Northridge didn’t allow many open looks down the field. Scott and Martinelli ran well in the first half but couldn’t keep up the pace.
“We’re still struggling to run the football, and we know that,” Senseney said. “We want to establish the run game but it’s just not there yet. Add to it that we have a bunch of guys who we thought would be starting for us and are injured now. It makes it hard to sustain for two, three, four quarters.”
The Warriors play a home nonleague contest against Skyline on Friday before entering Northern League play.
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Northridge 17, Centaurus 7
At Northridge H.S.
Centaurus (0-4) 7 0 0 0 — 7
Northridge (4-0) 3 0 7 7 — 17
Centaurus — J.J. Scott 1 run (Brody Jaskul kick).
Northridge — Seth Czapenski 30 FG.
Northridge — Michael Graff 7 pass from Robert Fulton (Czapenski kick).
Northridge — Blake Karlin 4 pass from Fulton (Czapenski kick).
First downs 8 18
Rushes-yards 33-131 31-80
Passing yards 61 237
Comp-Att-Int 11-15-0 21-36
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 7-57 8-56
RUSHING — Centaurus: Scott 12-65, Martinelli 8-59, Buchler 7-7, Shald 6-2; Northridge: Cook 16-66, R. Fulton 11-6, Greenwell 2-3, B. Fulton 1-5, Dennis-Lopez 1-0
PASSING (comp-att-int-yards) — Centaurus: Shald 11-14-0, 61 yards, Martinelli 0-1-0, 0 yards; Northridge: R. Fulton 21-36-1 237 yards.
RECEIVING — Centaurus: Sapena 4-29, Jaskul 3-21, Rowsam 2-6, Albertson 1-8, Martinelli 1-(-3); Northridge: Graff 6-95, Karlin 6-37, Stongle 2-36, Marx 2-20, Frye 2-19, Cook 2-11, Werner 1-19.