LA CROSSE—The La Crosse Central High School football team had to block out a lot of distractions Friday night.
It was homecoming, and the festivities around the field before and during the game never truly stopped. It was also the first game in years at Central’s football field behind the school, DeGaetano Stadium, which brought with it new dynamics.
But the Red Raiders came out and handled business early, scoring all of the points they needed to in the first half, and getting the running clock going in the second en route to a 47-12 victory over MVC foe Tomah.
The win makes Central (6-2, 4-2) an automatic entry into the WIAA Division 2 playoffs, and it can tie for second place in the conference if the Red Raiders can beat West Salem next week.
The Timberwolves fell 2-6 overall and 1-5 in the MVC. They were officially eliminated from playoff contention.
“It feels really great,” junior quarterback Johnny Davis said. “After that win against Onalaska, we knew we had to come into this game with everything we had and just win it to make sure we got into the playoffs.
“We didn’t want to lose tonight and then have to beat West Salem to make it to the playoffs, because they’re a really good team.”
Davis and his team’s performance in the opening 24 minutes made sure that wasn’t the situation the Red Raiders faced. They scored on six of their seven drives in the first half, and then coasted through the second as the running clock whittled away the time remaining.
Tomah simply had no answer for Johnny Davis in the first half — he totaled 305 yards and five touchdowns — and it resulted in a 47-12 lead for Central at halftime.
“This was huge. We wanted to keep checking things off the list that we’d accomplished,” Central coach Tony Servais said. “City title, accomplished; qualify for the playoffs now, accomplished. Now it’s about improving where we are when we’re going to be seeded.”
Davis scored the game’s first touchdown on a run from the 11, and had another 8-yard score later in the first quarter. His 77 yards on the ground in the first half were frustrating for Tomah because most of them came on plays on which the Timberwolves played well enough in the secondary to force Davis to scramble, but once he did, he broke containment and made things happen.
As usual, Davis made things happen through the air as well. He had three scoring tosses before halftime, highlighted by a 57-yard strike deep down field to a wide-open junior Jordan Davis.
Tomah hurt itself on a drive it looked to get its first defensive stop. Central senior kicker Trevon Van Egtern missed a field goal from 27 yards out, but a Tomah player ran into him on the kick and gave Central a fourth-and-goal at the 5. The Red Raiders capitalized, scoring on Johnny Davis’ pass to junior running back Peter Fleming. It was the first of two TDs for Fleming in the first half, with the other being a 9-yard run to finish a drive on which he had 34 of the 50 yards needed to score.
Central picked off three passes in the first half, one each by Quinten Trussoni, David Hayden, and Gunnar Wilcox. Trussoni returned his pick 34 yards for Central’s second score.
Johnny Davis finished with 389 total yards, with 312 of them through the air. Fleming had 59 yards on 12 carries. Senior Jamar Davis had 142 yards on four catches, while Jordan Davis finished with 77 yards on four catches.
Tomah scored on a 66-yard run by tailback Erick Gomez in the first quarter, and then a short pass to Kade Gnewikow in the second. The second scoring drive was set up by a long pass to senior Damien Hernandez.
Gomez had 112 yards on 11 carries, while Hernandez finished with 75 yards on three catches.
Tomah quarterback Evan Long got his first varsity action of the season. He threw a touchdown pass in the first half but also tossed an interception.
The Timberwolves close out the season at home Friday, Oct. 12 by hosting La Crosse Logan in a 7 p.m. kickoff at E.J. McKean Field.
CENTRAL 47, TOMAH 12
Tomah 06 06 00 00 — 12
Central 21 26 00 00 — 47
First quarter: C—Johnny Davis 11 run (Trevon Van Egtern kick) 10:17 C—Quinten Trussoni 34 interception return T—Erick Gomez 66 run (Kade Gnewikow kick) 9:04 C—Johnny Davis 8 run (Van Egtern kick) 7:46.
Second quarter: C—Peter Fleming 5 pass from Johnny Davis (Van Egtern kick) 10:15 C—Jordan Davis 57 pass from Johnny Davis 7:47 (kick failed) T—Gnewikow 9 pass from Justin Gerke (pass failed) 3:07 C—Fleming 9 run (kick failed) 1:37 C—Jordan Davis 9 pass from Johnny Davis (Van Egtern kick) 19.9.
Rushing: T—Gomez 12-111 C—Johnny Davis 8-77, Fleming 12-59 Passing: T—Gerke 10-16-2-148 C—Johnny Davis 14-23-1-312 Receiving: T—Damien Hernandez 3-75 C—Jamar Davis 4-142, Jordan Davis 4-77. Total yards: T—96 rushing-148 passing—244 total C—158 rushing-312 passing—470 total Fumbles: T—1-0C—1-0.