CENTERVILLE — At first look, it appeared an offensive slugfest was about to ensue. Then came the Big Reds.
The Centerville Big Reds would dig in their heels and score six unanswered touchdowns Friday to ultimately win 45-7 in their annual rivalry game against the Albia Blue Demons.
In the 111th meeting of the two teams — separated by 20 miles along Highway 5 — the Big Reds claimed their 72nd all-time win of the series. For the fifth straight year, the Battle of Highway 5 trophy will continue to reside in the halls of Centerville High School.
The Big Reds struck first, with Centerville’s Sawyer Wardlow going on a 14-yard touchdown run. The PAT kick was no good, however, and the Big Reds lead was just six points.
Albia’s Blue Demons wasted no time responding, racing up the field on the next possession. They scored just two minutes later, with quarterback Blake Chance throwing a 12-yard touchdown spiral to Nathaniel Wynn. A point-after kick put them ahead 7-6 with 6:54 left in the first quarter.
Less than a minute later, Centerville responded with a 58-yard touchdown pass from Wardlow to Kade Mosley. A missed two-point conversion made the score 12-7.
To open the second half, another score by the Big Reds. This time a three-yard run by Wardlow. Kellen Johnson kicked the extra point, putting Centerville ahead 19-7.
A 26-yard run by Wardlow with 8:38 left in the opening half added more points to Centerville’s score. They would lead 26-7 after an extra-point kick.
With 3:49 left in the half, Merrick Mathews would haul in a 36-yard throw from Wardlow. The point-after kick was no good, but Centerville began to open a commanding lead of 32-7.
With 13 seconds until halftime, Centerville added more insurance with a 16-yard pass by Wardlow that was deflected into the hands of Griffin Weber for a touchdown. The kick was blocked, but Centerville took a stunning 38-7 lead into the locker room.
The Big Reds settled the score in the third quarter, with Centerville’s Bradley Watts scoring the final touchdown of the game on a four-yard run. A Johnson PAT kick made the score 45-7, which held through the end of regulation.
Centerville and Albia began meeting at least once-yearly in 1910. They played each other twice in 1917, but not at all in 1918. While the flu pandemic of that year impacted local football schedules, it was rain and then snow that canceled the Centerville-Albia matchup.
Centerville (2-2) will face a tough test next week, traveling to second-ranked PCM, Monroe. Albia (1-3) will host Chariton (0-4) who lost to Clarke on Friday 35-14.