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No. 2 vs. No. 4: Bulldogs, Aggies risk perfect records

When Arbor View and Centennial met on the football field last year, it was a key early-season matchup in the Northwest League.

Realignment has placed the teams in different leagues, but that won’t make much difference to the players today when the northwest valley teams meet at 7 p.m. at Centennial.

“It’s still important,” Centennial coach Leon Evans said. “These kids all grew up together. They played with each other since they were little, and this game means a lot to them.

“We always get excited about this one.”

The rest of the area should, too, because the matchup pits two of the area’s top teams. The host Bulldogs (3-0) are ranked No. 2 by area coaches, and the Aggies (3-0) are No. 4.

“The biggest thing for us is just can we step up to the challenge,” said Evans, whose team lost 20-13 to Arbor View last season. “It’s a huge week for us. Can we put all the distractions aside and step up and play football and not get caught up in all the hype and all the publicity this game is getting?”

Centennial has outscored opponents 115-39, while Arbor View has won by a margin of 116-47.

“It’s special teams and the little things that’s going to win this thing,” Evans said. “We’re both evenly matched.”

Centennial scored 60 points last week but has been mostly a ball-control team. Coby Newton has led the way 435 yards and two touchdowns on 58 carries.

“He’s got a lot of big yards, and they’re hard yards,” Evans said. “He’s getting a lot of yards after contact, and once he gets to the secondary, he’s punishing those secondary guys, so he’s doing a good job.”

Quarterback Austin Turley hasn’t been called upon often, having thrown only 32 passes, but he has been efficient. Last week against Shadow Ridge, four of his five completions went for touchdowns.

Senior receiver Deontae Gilkey caught three passes for 79 yards and three TDs.

“It’s always good to be in the end zone, but we don’t need to be efficient throwing, we need to run more, because we’re a running team,” Gilkey said.

Evans said the Aggies could make it difficult to move the football.

“They fly around to the football and get a lot of people in on the play,” he said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to establish the run against those guys and keep them honest with the short passing game.”

Arbor View doesn’t worry much about keeping teams honest with its double-wing offense. The Aggies have rushed for 1,285 yards while throwing for 112.

Arbor View has five players with at least 165 yards rushing, led by Anthony Smith, who has 295 on 30 carries. Jimmie Finister (25 carries, 250 yards, three TDs) and Larry Norman (28 carries, 219 yards, four TDs) have helped carry the load.

Evans thinks his team is up to the task of stopping the run game.

“Our defense always comes ready to play,” he said.

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