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No. 3 Bulldogs blank Diamondbacks, set up first-place showdown

After making quick work of Desert Oasis on Friday, the Centennial football team can now set its sights on next week’s showdown with undefeated Arbor View for the Northwest League title.

Centennial quarterback Juan Rodriguez threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 72 yards and a score as the No. 3 Bulldogs crushed the overmatched Diamondbacks, 50-0.

“This was one of our goals,” Centennial coach Leon Evans said. “We wanted to fight for the Northwest (League) title this year, and we put ourselves in a position to do that next week.”

Rodriguez scored on a 2-yard run to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead six plays after Centennial (8-0, 3-0 Northwest League) forced its second fumble of the first quarter. The Bulldogs found the end zone on their next possession when Rodriguez connected with Ivan Ochoa-Serrano on a 21-yard scoring strike.

“(Staying focused on Desert Oasis) was the hardest thing I had to overcome this whole season,” Rodriguez said. “We have been preparing for (Arbor View) for as long as I can think of — since spring, since summer. We put everything into getting to this point.”

The Bulldogs scored 17 points on their next three possessions in the second quarter to take a 31-0 lead into the half.

“It was tough keeping them focused on the game at hand this week, but they did a good job getting through it tonight,” Evans said. “They had to force themselves a little bit tonight. We had a slow start, but we got a couple of things going early and it went from there.”

Centennial’s defense was dominant again, limiting the Diamondbacks (1-7, 1-3) to only 103 total yards — 11 rushing and 92 passing. Centennial’s defense also scored on a 25-yard interception return by Sean Sunn in the third quarter.

“Our defense has been great all year long,” Evans said. “Once again, coach (Devan) Jones and the defensive staff did a fantastic job with our defense getting those guys ready to play.”

Rhamondre Stevenson led the Bulldogs’ ground attack, rushing for 93 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Ochoa-Serrano caught three passes for 53 yards. Savon Scarver scored two touchdowns – one on a 15-yard reverse and another on a 5-yard pass from Rodriguez.

While Evans said his team has to continue to get better in all three phases of the game, especially with the division title on the line next week, he was pleased that the Bulldogs were able to limit the penalties. The Bulldogs were only flagged four times for 35 yards.

“That is something that has been plaguing us all year, and we did a good job tonight eliminating some of those penalties,” Evans said.

And now that Centennial’s attention is fully on Arbor View, Evans said it will be important for the Bulldogs to be focused at practice all week and be prepared to match the Aggies’ intensity level. Evans and Rodriguez both said the Bulldogs’ defense will be key to stopping Arbor View’s punishing ground attack.

“We just have to come in execute on offense, and play good defense,” Rodriguez said. “Our defense is probably the best defense in the whole state. If we can execute on offense, I don’t think there is any way they can stop us.”

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