ZACHARY -- While four former Zachary athletes entered the school’s Hall of Fame on Friday, current Bronco Darweshi Sanders looked every bit the part of a future ZHS Hall of Famer against Central.
The senior running back racked up 79 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries in the first half to propel the Broncos on their way to a 21-0 win. Sanders added his final touchdown in the fourth quarter on an 8-yard run.
Sanders routinely found space in the second and third levels of the Wildcats’ defense, finishing the night with 18 carries for 116 yards and all three of the Broncos’ scores.
“We wanted to hit them in the mouth early in the game, and he (Sanders) really came through with that (Friday),” Zachary receiver Chandler Whitfield said.
Central (4-4, 2-2 District 4-5A) finished with 207 yards of total offense, thanks to Joseph Self’s five-catch, 73-yard performance, while the Broncos (6-2, 4-0) finished with 287 yards.
Aside from a handful of impressive throws against the sideline to Self, Central quarterback Sam Kenerson struggled a bit through the air, throwing three interceptions and finishing 12-for-20 with 129 yards. Kenerson wasn’t helped by a struggling offensive line that coughed up eight sacks and gave way to just 78 yards on the ground, 30 by Kenerson.
“It’s hard trying to find running room against these guys,” Central running back Keenan Leachman said. “It was just hard to move the ball in general.”
Leachman, who saw playing time on both sides of the ball, was one of two Wildcats to run for more than 10 yards, despite having six players record at least one carry.
Although Zachary quarterback Keilon Brown finished the game with a win, the sophomore wasn’t without his share of mistakes. He was intercepted in the end zone after overthrowing Trea Shropshire. Central failed to take advantage of the turnover when Kenerson telegraphed a pass intended for Self that was picked by cornerback I’darius Cummings, who returned it to Central’s 5-yard line and set up Sanders for his second visit to the end zone.
Wildcats’ coach Sid Edwards dug into his bag of tricks to open the second half as Leachman recovered an onside kick that gave Central perhaps its best chance to score. Ultimately the Wildcats stalled out even after Leachman converted a 4th-and-2 with an 11-yard gain.
Central struggled to string together enough plays on offense together to pose a real threat to the vaunted Broncos defense, which has given up one touchdown or less in five of eight games this season. The Wildcats still managed to move the chains periodically, as Kenerson showed promise both with his feet and his arm.
Broncos’ coach David Brewerton was prepared to force the young quarterback to make decisions quickly by bringing added pressure, but wasn’t quite ready for the exceptional speed and vision the signal caller had.
“We had to get used to his speed coming out of the pocket early on,” Brewerton said. “But I think we really pressured him into some bad throws when they got behind. You have to be happy with how our defense played (Friday).”
Combined with a fantastic special-teams performance from kicker/punter Martell Fontenot, who at the end of two different drives pinned the Wildcats back inside their own 10-yard-line – the Broncos’ defense gave Kenerson and Co. little room for error most of the night.
“When you can force them to drive 80 or 90 yards each drive, that’s huge,” Brewerton said. “Fontenot came up big for us.”
Kenerson often overthrew the crossing routes, which led to picks by both Cummings and safety Jon Burrell. Kenerson also fell victim to a bit of bad luck as Charles Selders tipped his pass up at the line and was brought down with an exceptional grab by RJ Alexander.
The Broncos head into a 4-5A showdown next week when they host Scotlandville (7-0, 4-0). Central welcomes Denham Springs High (5-3, 2-2). Both games will be at 7 p.m. Friday at 7 p.m.
ZACHARY 21, CENTRAL 0
Central 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Zachary 0 14 0 7 -- 21
ZA -- Darweshi Sanders 4 run (Martell Fontenot kick)
ZA -- Sanders 5 run (Fontenot kick)
ZA -- Sanders 8 run (Fontenot kick)
First downs 5 8
Total yards 207 287
Rushes-yards 30-78 26-194
Passing yards 129 93
Passes 12-20-3 6-14-1
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Punts-Avg. 5-34.0 5-40.0
Penalties-yards 7-61 5-50