WOOD RIVER — Chalk it up as a learning experience for the East Alton-Wood River Oilers on Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
Visiting Centralia taught them a lesson in high-scoring, power-packed football.
The Orphans built a 44-0 halftime lead and coasted to a 44-16 win over the Oilers in a nonconference game. Centralia improved to 2-0, while EA-WR dropped to 0-2.
“ We preached all week to our kids that you can’t make mistakes to teams like Columbia and Centralia,” first-year EA-WR head coach Garry Herron said. “But that’s what we have done against two well-coached teams that have a lot of good athletes.”
Columbia amassed a 42-0 first-half lead and rolled to a 49-0 win over the Oilers in Week 1. This time, Centralia scored on its first six possessions and took advantage of three EA-WR turnovers in building an insurmountable lead. All three turnovers, including two fumbles, led to TDs.
“ We came out and did the things that we wanted to do,” Centralia coach Ray Kauling said of the Orphans’ fast start. “We did what we had to do and I’m happy with the way things are going.”
It seemed as if quarterback Javon Williams Jr. was in the middle of everything they did effectively. He completed 8 of 9 passes, including the final eight, for 180 yards during Centralia’s productive first half.
Williams also scored on a runs of 2 and 14 yards and pitched a pair of touchdown passes – for 32 and 58 yards – to favorite target Dorian Reeves. The Orphans, scoring twice within 31 seconds of the first quarter, led 30-0 fewer than nine minutes into the game.
“ We have a lot of weapons and we like to be balanced with the things we do on offense,” Kauling said.
Running back Keshawn Marshall also scored on runs of 8 and 47 yards as the Orphans strung together 364 yards of offense the first half. The Oilers managed just 33 first-half yards, all rushing.
“ Their quarterback (Williams) is big, speedy and smart,” Herron said.
The Oilers found a way to play smarter in the second half. For sure, they were better overall in tallying twice and keeping the Orphans, using their second stringers, from scoring.
Sophomore Zach Kincade tallied on a 6-yard run with 34.8 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Sophomore quarterback Justin Englar, who replaced starter Luke Wells, then connected with Chandler Eckhoff on a conversion pass.
Chris Hamby, a 5-foot-10, 205-pound senior, then scored on a 5-yard run with 6:37 to go. Englar hooked up with Zach Wells on a two-point pass in completing the scoring.
It was Hamby rushing nine times for 43 yards to lead the EA-WR attack. Zach Womack pitched in with 39 yards on the ground and Kincade finished with 29 yards, one more than Englar.
“ We played better in the second half and I’m hoping that’s something we can build on going into Prairie State Conference play,” Herron said. “We wanted to win the second half tonight, regardless of who we played, to give us some confidence going into our game with Mount Olive next week.”
Centralia plays host to Charleston in a nonconference game next week and then is home against Carbondale on Sept. 18 in its South Seven Conference opener. The Orphans finished 5-4 last season.
CENTRALIA 44, EA-WR 16
Centralia 30 14 0 0 – 44
EA-WR 0 0 8 8 –16
C – JaVon Williams 14 run (Reeves pass from Williams), 9:54
C – Reeves 32 pass from Williams (Keshawn Marshall run), 9:23
C – Reeves 58 pass from Williams (pass failed), 5:28
C – Marshall 8 run (Williams run), 3:32
C – Marshall 47 run (Green pass from Williams), 7:10
C – Williams 2 run (pass failed), 4:44
EAWR – Zach Kincade 6 run (Chandler Eckhoff pass from Justin Englar), :34.8
EAWR – Chris Hamby 5 run (Zach Wells pass from Justin Englar), 6:37