The Celina football team faces a win-and-get-in situation this week as it hosts Anna with a playoff berth on the line.
The Bobcats had a chance to punch their ticket last week against a stout Melissa ballclub, but they simply could not slow down Cardinal dual-threat quarterback Brendon Lewis.
The Colorado commit accounted for 340 of Melissa’s 504 total yards and added the finishing touches with a 96-yard touchdown run late to seal the 29-17 victory over Celina.
As tough as the loss was to swallow, something much greater than any game occurred moments before Lewis’ long run, as referee Dennis Bennett collapsed on the field after a cardiac event.
Play was halted for over 20 minutes as Bennett was given CPR and eventually resuscitated on the field. Bennett ultimately survived and was taken off in an ambulance, and play eventually resumed shortly after.
“In 30 years, I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Bill Elliott, Celina head coach. “All the kids were huddled up praying for the guy. I stayed out there, and I was praying for him, too, while the entire stadium was just so quiet. It put it all in perspective that we were just playing a game, and there are a lot of bigger things when it comes to life and death.”
With Bennett still on the minds of the players and coaching staff, Celina now gears up to take on the Coyotes, who are hungry for a win to also keep their playoff hopes alive.
Anna is currently in the midst of a two-game skid following blowout defeats to Paris and Melissa and, ideally, must win at least two of its last three contests of the season.
Celina, on the other hand, will have its bye next week, followed by a highly-anticipated rematch against Argyle to conclude the district slate. With that said, Elliott knows his squad must mountain its sole focus on Anna this week and not overlook the Coyotes.
“They have what it takes to put it together, they just haven’t figured out how to win, sometimes,” he said. “Some people will look at this as an easy game, but Anna is loaded, and this could be a trap game.”
Senior defensive back and Minnesota commit Abner Dubar is one of the more talented skill-position players in the entire district and is often used on both sides of the football.
Anna also possesses a player Elliott believes to be one of the more dominant linemen in the district, as well, in senior Rasheed Readus, who is also utilized on both offense and defense with his 6-foot-4, 270-pound frame.
Junior Jaden Adams leads the way at quarterback with 703 yards through the air and six touchdowns on the season, while containing junior running back Arthur Nwokorie and senior wide receiver Noah Palashaw are also keys in slowing down the Anna offense.
“We have to get into the playoffs, and this game gets us in. Our goal in district is to make the playoffs, so we have to focus and understand that this is the biggest game we are playing this week. It’s also our last home game for these seniors, so that’s another thing to motivate them with.”