MESQUITE—Celina is one of the most storied high school programs in Texas and a big reason is what it is able to do in November and December.
Regardless of what happens during the regular season, the Bobcats save their best for the playoffs and that is a chief reason why they have won eight state championships.
Celina might have endured a roller coaster of a ride during the last three months, but sent a message they will once again be a team to be reckoned with in the coming weeks as they rolled to a 63-13 victory over Ferris on Thursday in a Class 4A Division II bi-district playoff game at E.H. Hanby Stadium.
The Bobcats (8-3) advance to the area finals where they will take on the winner of Friday’s Jasper/Atlanta game next week at a time and place to be determined.
Celina seized control from the start in a dominant first half that saw them open a 50-6 lead. Even employing several backups throughout the second half, there was little drop off, as they finished the night with a 510-29 edge in total yards.
“Our kids tonight were ready to play. We’ve had some ups and downs throughout the season and we’ve had some injuries that put us in a bind at some times,” Celina head coach Bill Elliott said. “We just sat down with the kids this week and talked to them about ‘Celina Time’. I’ve been at Celina for 25 years and that is what we’re known for; it doesn’t matter what the record was, the last 10 weeks, the last 10 games, what matters now is the next six weeks. We’re all 0-0, now we’re 1-0, so we’ve got to keep that going. The kids bought into that this week and they got prepared to play and showed what they can do.”
Celina quarterback Noah Ross was an efficient 9-of-11 passing for 228 yards and three touchdowns, while adding another score on the ground.
Nine different running backs combined to roll up 282 rushing yards, averaging 5.8 yards per carry, and it was the running attack that got the Bobcats going early on.
Celina moved 67 yards in nine plays, all on the ground, with Logan Point capping the drive with a 7-yard touchdown run.
The Bobcats then surprised Ferris (4-7) with an onside kick, which was recovered by Travis Radtke. After a 41-yard pass from Ross to Major Martin, Point was back in the end zone on a 4-yard run, and Ross ran in the two-point conversion to push the lead to 15-0.
Ross was just getting warmed up, as he threw touchdown passes of 32 yards to Jimmy Allen and 45 yards to Martin to make it 29-0 at the end of the first quarter.
It was more of the same in the second, with Ross scrambling in from four yards out to push the lead to 36-0. Ferris got on the scoreboard on a 88-yard kickoff return by Damian Edwards, but Celina had an immediate answer, as Ryan Nebeker scored from a yard out and Ross hooked up with Luke Greening on a 13-yard scoring strike to grab a commanding 50-6 halftime lead.
The Bobcats turned to the backups in the second half, and although the Yellowjackets were able to cash in a turnover with a 58-yard fumble return by Caleb Cox, Celina got a 3-yard touchdown run from Javier Ramirez and a 29-yard score from Luke Addy to provide the final margin.
The Bobcats understand that the road only gets tougher from here. But through a season in which they have faced their share of adversity, they feel confident and ready for the challenge.
“It was always a struggle, but they learned to fight, they learned to stay in the game, not to give up and to continue to battle. They did that all year long, even the games we lost, they battled all the way until the end, they stayed after it and fought and that’s the kind of heart these kids have,” Elliott said. “It was just getting a couple of our younger players to grow up and put things together and they did that tonight. I definitely feel that (we are peaking), you can just tell in the air with the preparation this week, they did a great job and they are definitely buying into ‘Celina Time’.”