And here I thought when Centralia moved up to Class 3...we'd never see them again.
Well kids...they're baaaack. Wouldn't you know it...matched up on the same side of the bracket again with our nemesis of nemesisesesssss...or something like that. Erle Bennett and the doggone Panthers of doggone Centralia.
Now, don't get me wrong...ever since they graduated that bunch back in 2003...we've more than held our own against them. Matter of fact...they haven't played us in the regular season since 2005 when we went up and hung 50-plus on them in the first half of their homecoming game. During our runs through the playoffs in '06 and '07 and '08...they came into the games undefeated...and went out not undefeated. And our fond memories always think back to the "07 game in Centralia and the Eiken Spin-o-rama.
We'll conveniently forget what they did to us in the playoffs in 2009...the last time we were up there.
It's not as if they're some kind of heated rival. It's not as if there's some kind of bad blood between us. Ol' Erle is a class guy...even if he does talk to me in one word answers. And the folks up there are real nice to us. Except for Ed's chili in 2006...which was tepid at best. The next year, they brought a nice hot batch to him in the press box. Swell folks.
The last couple of seasons have been tough ones by Centralia standards. Last year, they didn't even win the district. Lost it to something called Orchard Farm. Really? Is it a high school...an orchard, or a farm? But Centralia shouldn't be losing to it.
But...Ol' Erle stuck to it...and here they are again. Dressing 90+ kids, running the ball...and running the ball...and running the ball...and pas-no! Running the ball. With linemen built like tree stumps...real heavy tree stumps. Six-foot tall, 285 pound tree stumps.
And while I'm at it...would it kill us if we had a lineman who weighed more than 230 pounds? I love our kids...and I know we're in better shape than most teams we play...and we're faster...and on and on...but where do these other schools get these kids? I'm looking at Centralia...about the same sized school...and their second string kids are all 6-foot-3 and 280 pounds. None of their starting offensive linemen weigh less than 215 pounds...they've got two kids over 250 pounds...and they have a 6-foot-2, 375 pound defensive lineman...and he ain't a stiff.
In my more than a decade of doing games for Blair Oaks, I can count the linemen who have weighed in at more than 250 pounds on the fingers of one hand. Jared Verslues, Andy Lueke, Big John and Slightly Less Large Shawn Alexander...and maybe Dallas Ahlers. That's it...right? "Country Strong" is great...we don't have a bad body in the bunch...but like Brad Drehle used to say...we've got running backs playing the offensive line.
Anyways...I digress...a lot. We're off on the road to Centralia. Where is it? It's just south of Sturgeon. Bob Hope and Bing Crosby we ain't...but we've been here before. Let's have a repeat of ''06, '07, and '08.