By Kyle Ocker
---- — CENTERVILLE — For the first time since 2009, the Centerville Big Reds will be able to hang up the Pennant in the school hallways.
The Big Reds beat the Davis County Mustangs 30-13 in Friday’s season opener at Paul Johnson Field.
Quarterback Michael Starcevich was solid on both sides of the ball, but especially offensively. Starcevich threw three touchdowns while also recording a rushing touchdown of his own.
“Michael was just outstanding,” Centerville head coach Chuck Evans said. “His effort, his leadership with the offense and the leadership on the defense — we knew we couldn’t afford to loose him just because the way he was directing traffic and making sure everybody was getting to the right place. That’s something that we hope we can build on.”
The chemistry between Starcevich and wide receiver Kolton Gonnerman was in full force at Paul Johnson Field. The two connected for two touchdown receptions in the game, both over 25 yards.
Both catches from Gonnerman were all-star touchdown receptions. The first grab was a 25-yard reception with 4:28 remaining in the first half. The other came with 10:04 left in the third, a 45-yard reception.
Garrett Moorman also recorded a highlight reception at the goal line eight minutes into the game for a 37-yard touchdown reception to put the Big Reds up 7-0 early.
With 7:16 left in the first half, Davis County tied the game with a rushing touchdown from the feet of Spencer Bassett.
Three minutes later Gonnerman scored his first touchdown of the night to make the score 14-7 and give the Reds a lead they would hold for the rest of the game.
With two minutes left in the first half, Gonnerman picked up a punt return that would put Centerville at the Davis County 23 yard line.
The Big Reds continued a march to the three-yard line. They would set up a play that would have been a touchdown, except back-to-back holding penalties would negate the touchdown and slow down their charge.
A nine-yard reception by Gonnerman would set up a 26-yard field goal kick by Brent Jackson, which he put through the uprights for a 17-7 Centerville lead with 20 seconds left in the first half.
The Reds opened up the third quarter with a quick scoring drive. Gonnerman picked up a 45-yard touchdown reception two minutes into the second half. The point-after-touchdown attempt was blocked by Davis County, leaving the score at 23-7.
With 9:16 left in the third quarter, Centerville’s Brad Irwin recorded the only interception of the night on the Davis County 29 yard line. However, Centerville was unable to mount a successful drive and turned the ball back over to Davis County.
With 1:12 remaining in the third quarter, Davis County’s Bassett picked up a four-yard run for his second touchdown of the night. The Mustangs’ two-point conversion attempt failed, making the score 23-13 going in to the fourth quarter.
The Big Reds closed the night’s scoring with a six-yard touchdown run by Starcevich. A successful PAT kick by Jackson put the score at 30-13.
Centerville’s defense penetrated the offensive line of the Mustangs several times, forcing Davis County quarterback Connor Young to scramble away as he looked for receivers.
Centerville picked up four sacks. Avery Hutton had two of those while Dan Harris and Jared Armington each had one sack.
“We had numerous opportunities to get that quarterback and he did a nice job getting away,” Evans said. “We just left our feet and were lunging at him instead of just driving into him and knocking him down. And I told the boys, ‘Football is three different phases. It’s offense, it’s defense and it’s special teams.’ And tonight you start seeing some of that coming about.”
Friday’s annual Pennant Game was the 21st meeting of Centerville and Davis County in the tradition that officially began with the 1993 season, however the rivalry between the Big Reds and Mustangs stretches back much longer than that.
Centerville, with the win Friday, improved their record against Davis County in the Pennant Game to 11-10.
Centerville’s schedule doesn’t skip a beat, as they will travel north on Highway 5 next week for another spirited non-district rivalry with Albia in the Battle of Highway 5.
“The old adage is from the first game to the second game you have the most improvement,” Evans said. “And by gosh we need it, there’s no doubt about. But once we get things lined up and the weather cools off a bit this could be a really fun team to watch.”
Centerville (1-0) will travel to No. 3 (2-A) Albia next Friday for the Battle of Highway 5. Davis County (0-1) will host Fairfield.
Albia (1-0) will head into the Battle of Highway 5 contest fresh off of a 47-0 win over Fairfield.
“Next week, Albia sees some defense,” Evans said.
Centerville 30, Davis County 13
D.C.	0	7	0	6	—	13
CEN	7	10	6	7	—	30
CEN — Garrett Moorman 37-yard touchdown reception from Michael Starcevich (Brent Jackson kick good), 4:17
DAV — Spencer Bassett 1-yard touchdown run (Connor Young kick good), 7:16.
CEN — Kolton Gonnerman 25-yard touchdown reception from Starcevich (Starcevich kick good), 4:28.
CEN — Jackson 26-yard field goal, 0:20.
CEN — Gonnerman 55-yard touchdown reception (Jackson kick blocked), 10:04.
DAV — Bassett 4-yard touchdown run (Two point pass failed), 1:12.
CEN — Starcevich six-yard touchdown run (Jackson kick good), 7:00.
Davis County team stats
Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Yards) 7-17-0-102. Rushing 34-156 yards.
Centerville team stats
Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Yards) 11-19-0-243. Rushing 39-141 yards.
Davis County individual stats
Passing — Justin Utt 7-17-1, 102 yards.
Rushing — Spencer Bassett 16-101 yards, Utt 17-58, Connor Young 1-(-3).
Receiving — Jacob Jones 2-45 yards, Jed Martsching 1-21, Bassett 2-20, Dillon Garrett 1-15, Austin White 1-1.
Tackles (top three) — Jones 7, Isaac Hougland 7, Connor Davidson 7.
PAT kicks — Connor Young 1-1. Kick offs — 3-154 yards. Punting — Jacob Jones 6-221.
Kick off returns — Young 2-35, Jones 1-17, Andrew Cowles 1-0.
Punt returns — Young 2-10.
Centerville individual stats
Passing — Michael Starcevich 11-19-0, 243 yards, 3 touchdowns.
Rushing — Starcevich 15-78 yards, Grant Walker 17-37, Taylor Micetich 6-24, Gabe Cowan 1-2.
Receiving — Kolton Gonnerman 7-118 yards, Garrett Moorman 2-85, Garrett McGrann 1-33, Walker 1-7.
Tackles (top three) — Gabe Cowan 13, Starcevich 9, Michael Cope 6, Gonnerman 6, Avery Hutton 6, Walker 6.
Sacks (top three) — Hutton 2, Dan Harris, Jared Armington.
Interceptions — Brad Irwin 1-0 yards.
PAT kicks — Brent Jackson 3-4. Field goals — Jackson 1-1. Kick offs — 6-315 yards, 2 touchbacks. Punting — Garrett Moorman 1-39, Starcevich 3-70.
Kick off returns — Gonnerman 2-46, Graydon Schmidt 1-23.
Punt returns — Gonnerman 2-78.