Despite being last year’s Division II state champion, the Centennial Coyotes have had to prove they belong time and again in 2015. Some questioned whether the Rich Taylor-led team could compete playing in Division I. It became evident pretty quickly that they belonged.
Friday night cemented that.
The Coyotes took down third-seeded Hamilton, outscoring the Huskies 27-0 to end the game. In perfect Centennial fashion, the Coyotes owned the fourth quarter, shutting the door defensively, getting some key special teams plays, and capping off the night with the Isaac Steele 34-yard touchdown run.
“What was going through my head was, ‘Oh my God, the offensive line made super good blocks,'” Centennial quarterback Isaac Steele said. “I just hit the hole, and my running back…he led through the hole and hit the free safety, pushed him outside. I made a cut, and took it to the end zone.”
The team approaches each game the same way.
“(Coach Taylor) told us before game and at halftime, he said to stay positive, stay loose, and stay focused,” Steele said. “He said if we do those three things, we will win every single game, and that’s what we did.”
Despite being down 23-7 with all the momentum on the side of the Huskies, Centennial dug their heels in the ground, pushed forward, and scrapped their way to a 34-23 victory that puts the Coyotes in the state semifinals.
“As long as you continue to believe and continue to fight, unusual things happen in football. And I give Hamilton a great deal of credit, they are a great football team,” Centennial head football coach Rich Taylor said. “It appeared at times that our kids maybe should have said, ‘Uh, we had a good season’, but I guess the heart of the champion doesn’t allow them to do that.”
The Coyotes’ next test will be second-seeded Mountain Pointe.