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Central bolts past Douglas in season opener

Douglas’ Payton DeWitt, lower right, gets tackled by most of the Aberdeen Central defense during Friday’s game at the Hub City Bowl at Swisher Field. Photo by John Davis taken 8/27/2021

It did not take long for Aberdeen Central to set the tone for the season Friday evening.

The Golden Eagles connected on a 38-yard pass play on their first play from scrimmage and were off and running from there. Central dominated Douglas 49-0 to grab a non-conference football victory during the Hub City Bowl at Swisher Field in the first ever meeting between the two teams.

“That’s the way we wanted to start the game,” said first-year Central coach Scott Svendsen of the big pass play. “We wanted to start with a big play just to set the tone for the season what we want to do. They kids felt good about it, I felt good about it, so we did it.”

That play has been in a works for a while, according to quarterback Sam Rohlfs who spotted Jacob Merxbauer for the big gain.

“We’ve had that set up for about a week now,” Rohlfs said. “We wanted to test the waters with the corners and see if we could get them deep.”

Moments after the connection, Karson Carda scored on five-yard touchdown run and Central had a lead it would never lose.

After failing to score on its next two possessions, the Golden Eagles broke the game wide open with four touchdowns in the second period to take a commanding 35-0 advantage.

Carda added another TD run before Rohlfs threw touchdown passes to Alec Voegele and Merxbauer, before running in a score himself.

The pass to Merxbauer covered 57 yards as a defender bit on a fake and the senior was gone.

“I saw him coming right at me,” Merxbauer said of the defender. “I was going to do a stop route and just went off and started running, and I couldn’t even see him anymore.”

From there it was a matter of just hauling in the football with nobody in sight.

“I was kind of swerving,” Merxbauer said. “I was trying to get underneath the ball. It just fell in my hands and I ran it in.”

The Eagles added two more touchdowns in the second half for the final margin of difference.

Central’s defense was rock solid the entire contest, holding Douglas to 54 yards of total offense.

“We come out and score the first series and then we sputter the next two series, but our defense stayed pretty consistent. We can anchor on them,” Svendsen said. “They did a good job. I think defense is probably the strength of our team right now.”

A major cog in that defense is linebacker Jacob Waltman.

“The defense played great,” Waltman said. “I loved how we rallied to the ball. It was a fun night to play.”

Waltman was in on several big hits in the contest. He said the Eagles enjoy playing physical football.

“We want to hit people. We want to be a physical team,” Waltman said. “We don’t want to be the team being dominated. We want to be the dominator.”

Rohlfs finished the night with 156 yards passing and three touchdowns, and 56 yards rushing and a TD.

The Eagles rushed for 203 yards as a team.

“We were real physical up front, so our run game was kind of unstoppable, and that opened a bunch up in the backfield,” Rohlfs said. “I was really grateful for our offensive linemen to do that.”

Central is back home again on Friday, taking on longtime Eastern South Dakota Conference foe Yankton. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

“I remember back in the old days, playing Yankton. They were tough,” Svendsen said. “They have a very respectable program. It’s going to be a good ballgame. We have to prepare ourselves for that situation.”

Douglas 0 0  0 0 – 0

Aberdeen Central 7 28 7 7 – 49

First Quarter

AC – Karson Carda 5 run (Tayden Brownson kick), 10:25.

Second Quarter

AC – Carda 20 run (Brownson kick), 10:44.

AC – Alec Voegele 6 pass from Sam Rohlfs (Brownson kick), 4:56.

AC – Jacob Merxbauer 57 pass from Rohlfs (Brownson kick), 3:13.

AC – Rohlfs 15 run (Brownson kick), 2:45.

Third Quarter

AC – Brady Munsen 9 pass from Rohlfs (Brownson kick), 5:37.

Fourth Quarter

AC – Avery Ligon 5 run (Brownson kick), 9:00.

OFFENSE: Douglas rushing 30-55 (Payton DeWitt 16-45, Logan Huber 3-26), passing 1-11-3 for minus 1 (Matthew Denekamp 1-8-2 for minus 1, Jacob Thibeau 0-3-1 for 0), first downs 4; Aberdeen Central rushing 30-203 (Karson Carda 9-65, Sam Rohlfs 6-56, Avery Ligon 4-55, Weston Stippich 4-17, Hayden Yost 3-8), passing 9-14-0 for 163 (Rohlfs 9-14-0 for 163), receiving (Jacob Merxbauer 3-104, Austin Erickson 3-35 Collin Huff 1-9, Brady Munsen 1-9, Alec Voegele 1-6), first downs 16.

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