CENTERVILLE — Keokuk held a seven-point lead for four minutes and 19 seconds on Friday. Centerville’s Michael Starcevich tossed a 38-yard pass to Kolton Gonnerman with 2:58 left in the first quarter to propel Centerville to a 7-7 tie.
Just under a minute-and-a-half later, Centerville’s Graydon Schmidt caught an 80-yard pass from Starcevich to give Centerville a 14-7 lead. The Big Reds would hold on to that lead for the rest of the game, beating the Keokuk Chiefs (1-2, 0-1) 49-20 as they opened up district play last Friday.
Starcevich had an all-star game, as he ended the night leading the team in several categories on both sides of the ball.
Starcevich threw four touchdown passes. He made 17 passing attempts and had eight completions for 321 yards.
When Starcevich wasn’t passing, he hit the ground running. He ran for 111 yards in 15 attempts, recording three rushing touchdowns — the longest being a 45-yard touchdown run with 9:59 left in the game.
On the defensive side, Starcevich led the team with two interceptions.
Starcevich’s top passing target was once again Kolton Gonnerman, who scored three times while recording five receptions for 192 yards. Schmidt had two receptions for 84 yards while Garrett Moorman recorded a 45-yard reception in the game.
It was a special night for the Centerville Big Reds, and the 49-20 win to open district play was only one part of that.
A once time-honored tradition that had fell by the wayside in the 1990s and onward was resurrected for Friday’s night game.
Football players and cheerleaders went around to the K-6 schools in Centerville on Friday before the game, handing out paper hats with the words "BEAT KEOKUK” written in bold lettering across one of the sides. The kids wore those hats to the game and stayed after to get autographs from their favorite football players and cheerleaders.