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LAFAYETTE — It was the best of halves, it was the worst of halves.

Holy Family may very well burn the tape for the first half of Thursday’s Northern League game against Centaurus at Warrior Stadium.

But after going to locker rooms down 9-7 to the Warriors and receiving a stern halftime lecture from coach Mike Gabriel, the Tigers responded, especially on the defensive side. Fourth-ranked Holy Family blanked Centaurus in the second half and earned a very workmanlike 20-9 win to all but lock up the 3A Northern League.

“Centaurus is a well-coached football team and they always bring a battle to us,” said Gabriel, whose team will try and go 5-0 in the league next week against Denver North. “We knew what we were getting into tonight and we challenged the kids at the half. We were down and they came out and popped us in the mouth in the first half and our kids rose to the challenge.”

How effective was the halftime speech? The first six offensive plays that Centaurus ran in the third quarter all went backwards.

Said Dante Cowell of his recollection of the halftime speech: “It was either pull your heads out of your butts, or lose.”

Cowell and his defensive linemates, notably Nicola Lonardo and Tyler Dudden, kept their eye on Centaurus’ spark plug of a running back Matt Buchler and didn’t allow the 5-foot-5 junior many open running lanes.

“We work on pursuit everyday in practice and pursuing to the ball and work on keeping thing in front of us, especially with a kid like (Buchler),” Gabriel said. “He has been a tough player for them for years and we’ve seen him every year. We told the kids all week, keep him in front of you, sometimes we did and sometimes we didn’t, but he’s a good player.”

Buchler had 101 yards in the first half on 16 carries and finished the game with 106 on 26 carries. Centaurus coach Chad Senseney was thrilled with his team’s first-half performance but knew it was only going to fire up Holy Family, and his job was to keep his team motivated to match what he knew was coming.

“We were exactly were we wanted to be and this is where we said we wanted to be in our Sunday meeting,” said Senseney, whose team will wrap up the 2013 season next week against Erie. “But we knew we had to come back out ready and be prepared, because that is what playoff team do, teams like Holy Family, they come out and they are going to respond.

“I don’t think it was a lack of us not responding. They had a good game plan and some good kids over there and that’s how it goes.”

Holy Family’s offense slowly wore down the Warriors and grinded out two quality short-field scoring drives in the second half that made the difference. Quarterback David Sommers took over and gave the Tigers the lead for good midway through the third quarter on keeper around the left side from 15 yards out.

Sommers finished with 177 yards on 17 carries.

Ryan Younggreen hammered the nail in the Warriors coffin with a 12-yard run in the fourth quarter to make it a two-score game.

Centaurus had a chance late in the fourth quarter, and freshman quarterback Jerald Romero drove the Warriors to the Tigers 2-yard line, but Cowell and Co. combined to stop Buchler for a 1-yard loss on fourth down and Holy Family ran out the clock from there.

“I’m just doing what I was taught to do and everybody else was doing it,” Cowell said. “Everyone was doing their job, so we stopped him.”

The bright spot for Centaurus, especially in the first half, was junior Mike DeVries. He made four tackles behind the line of scrimmage in the first half and a big third down sack of Sommers late in the second quarter.

“I just have to credit the rest of the defensive guys for doing their job and opening it up for me,” DeVries said. “I couldn’t ask to play with a better group of guys. Holy Family had a great scheme and a great offensive line, but it was time to make some plays and people stepped up for sure.”

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Holy Family 20, Centaurus 9

At Centaurus H.S. (Warrior Stadium)

Holy Family (7-1, 4-0) 7 0 6 7 — 20

Centaurus (2-6, 2-2) 0 9 0 0 — 9


First Quarter

Holy Family — Christopher Helbig 5 pass from David Sommers (Joey Golter kick).

Second Quarter

Centaurus — Felipe Cruz 23 run (run failed).

Centaurus — FG Shayne Albertson 20.

Third Quarter

Holy Family — Sommers 15 run (run failed).

Fourth Quarter

Holy Family — Ryan Younggreen 12 run (Golter kick).


RUSHING — Holy Family: David Sommers 17-177; Ryan Younggreen 16-85; Weston Dinsmore 6-48; Chanson Segeth 7-46; David Johnson 1-7; Zach Trombley 1 -5; Centaurus: Matt Buchler 26-106; Chris Bengtson 7-34; Felipe Cruz 6-10; Dillon Wain 2-7; Jerald Romero 4-(minus-29).

PASSING (comp-att-int-yards) — Holy Family: Sommers 9-11-0-73; Centaurus: Romero 6-8-0-103.

RECEIVING — Holy Family: Dinsmore 3-17; Bryce Buderus 2-9; Christopher Helbig 1-14; Johnson 1-14; Jeff Ball 1-10; Younggreen 1-7; Centaurus: Derek French 3-80; Buchler 3-23.

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