Center Grove brushed the dust off of its passing game in a big way Friday night.
In the process, the state’s No. 4 team in Class 6A blew out North Central 51-14 to win its fourth straight game after dropping the opener against Warren Central.
Senior quarterback Jack Kellams completed 12 of 13 passes for 182 and a pair of touchdown passes.
Now compare this to the Trojans’ first four games, when Kellams had made good on 13 of 33 attempts for 144 yards and a score.
“Jack Kellams was as focused, had great composure, stood in the pocket and threw the football as well as anybody we’ve had,” Center Grove coach Eric Moore said. “I’m very proud of his effort tonight and the way he led the team.
“He made some big throws. It really surprised us we were able to get some big plays with the passing game. We’re always ready to do it. It’s just a matter of what are they going to give us.”
The Trojans’ wing-T offense did its share of running, too.
By night’s end, nine different players contributed to the team’s 292 rushing yards. Senior Russ Yeast led the way with 10 carries for 114 yards and scoring runs covering 9 and 34 yards.
Kellams, meanwhile, utilized seven different receivers. Four had two catches each in the form of Tyler Boyer (52 yards), Trevor Hohlt (46), Yeast (25) and Triston Clark (21).
The quarterback at halftime had already completed 11 of 12 pass attempts for 147 yards.
“We thought we would be able to pound them down with our running backs and sneak in a few passes here and there,” Kellams said. “But they seemed to clog up the middle a lot, so it made us open up our passing game.
“The first game of the season I was a little nervous, of course. It was my first start. But as it’s gone on I’ve started to feel more comfortable out there.”
Center Grove led at halftime 27-7 having produced a total of 262 yards compared to 84 for the Panthers.
Kellams established the theme early when on the game’s fifth play he lofted a perfect 48-yard touchdown strike to Boyer. Two series later the quarterback capped an 80-yard drive with his 6-yard dart to junior tight end Cory Heinrichs.
The Trojans other two first-half scores came on runs — a 9-yarder from Yeast at 5:02 of the second quarter and Hohlt’s 20-yard blast up the gut at the 2:33 mark.
North Central got on the board when junior quarterback Cole Maguire lofted a 20-yard touchdown strike to 6-foot-5 senior Tyronne Caldwell in the back of the end zone with only 8.7 seconds showing.
Now 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference standings, the Trojans host Lawrence Central next Friday.