Center Grove managed to squeeze a fumble, interception and key injury into the first 14 seconds of its football season Friday night.
No one ever accused the Trojans of being boring.
Despite a solid effort defensively by Center Grove, it was defending Class 6A state champion Warren Central coming out on top with a 12-9 victory in overtime — a loss which prevented coach Eric Moore’s program from posting its ninth consecutive Week 1 triumph.
Running Division I defensive back recruit Mykelti Williams out of the shotgun formation, the Warriors needed three plays to score the winning points. This after junior kicker Nathanael Snyder’s 31-yard field goal to start the extra session had given the Trojans a 9-6 advantage.
Williams, a 6-foot, 195-pound senior who has already received scholarship offers from the likes of Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Purdue and Indiana, made the most of his only three carries on the night.
“We don’t have one of them,” shrugged Moore when asked afterward if he was surprised when No. 18 lined up at quarterback in OT. “When you’re in an overtime situation ... we could have won the game. We just didn’t take advantage in key situations.”
More than once the Trojans were their own worst enemy, once having a 3-yard touchdown run snuffed out by a holding call, which led to Snyder’s lone miss on the night as his 29-yard field goal try sailed left at 9:37 of the final period.
With 5:29 to play, Warren Central delivered an engraved invitation to Center Grove after the snap from center sailed over the head of Warriors’ sophomore punter Zach Summeier, resulting in a 27-yard loss.
In business big time at the Warren Central 19-yard line, the Trojans’ momentum proved short-lived as the Warriors pounced on a Max Norris fumble on the very next play.
Playing without senior receiver Devon Hensley, who landed wrong on the game’s very first play – an interception by, who else, Williams – Center Grove carried the football 41 times for only 51 yards.
Junior quarterback Joey Siderewicz completed 11 of 15 passes for 116 yards in his debut as a varsity starter. Sophomore Titus McCoy came through with four receptions for 72 yards and the play of the night, a 48-yard gain off a short dump pass in which McCoy broke free from four would-be Warriors tackles.
Meanwhile, the Trojans defense, led by 6-foot-4, 225-pound senior end Gavin Everett, limited Warren ball carriers to 48 yards on 37 attempts. Senior quarterback Jordan Leach made good on just 5 of 13 pass attempts, but his 34-yard dart over the middle to Donnell Johnson tied the score at 6-6 at 3:55 of the third quarter.
The lone first-half points came off the right foot of Snyder, whose second-quarter field goals of 35 and 42 yards lifted the Trojans to a 6-0 lead at intermission.
With 119 yards of total offense spread over the opening half, Center Grove easily outdistanced the Warriors in this department. The Trojans’ swarming defense limited Warren Central to only 15 yards of offense on 16 snaps from scrimmage.
Moore was disappointed with falling to 0-1 in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference standings but admired the effort defensively.
“Going into the season I was really worried about our defensive front, but they got great pressure tonight,” Moore said. “The things I know after tonight are we have to run the football better, and when you’ve got a defense you’ve got a chance.”
Center Grove is back in action next Friday when it travels to play county rival Whiteland.