New-look Century controls Blackfoot to earn conference win

Marianne Gish?For the Journal Century's Cole McKinlay runs the ball against Blackfoot's Cole Mays (47) during their game on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, at Holt Arena. Century won 35-20.

Marianne Gish?For the Journal
Century’s Cole McKinlay runs the ball against Blackfoot’s Cole Mays (47) during their game on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, at Holt Arena. Century won 35-20.

By Michael Guise, mguise@journalnet.com

POCATELLO β€” The enthusiastic students jumbled together near the guardrail, nudging each other for a spot at the front of the pack.

Everyone wanted to see Century as the squad made its way toward the group after a midfield meeting. The community belted Century’s fight song while drums boomed in the background. A loud, cheerful yell capped the performance and sent the Diamondbacks gaily into the night after the squad earned a 35-20 win Friday against Blackfoot.

It was the Diamondbacks’ second win in three games this season. The team had one win a year ago.

“It’s a total change from last year,” senior wide receiver Coleton Adamson said. “Now, we are walking through the halls at school with confidence. Our warm-ups are different. Our practices are different, it’s intense. It’s really great.”

Friday’s victory was a complete effort from the D-backs. The squad allowed 272 total yards and accumulated 374 yards of offense on 62 plays.

The all-around numbers helped Century tally its third consecutive game this season of 35 points or more. The team is averaging 37.3 points per game, the highest three-game average to start a season since 2009’s 36.3 average.

“We are working on the attitude,” Century coach Travis Hobson said. “They are learning how to be ‘that guy.’ The wins help. Playing physical teams like Blackfoot and coming out like we did is what you need.”

The bulk of Century’s yards came on the ground, as the D-backs had three players rush for 40 yards or more, led by junior quarterback Cole McKinlay’s 16 rushes for 81 yards and a touchdown. The signal caller was just as productive through the air, completing 14 of 20 passes for 164 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

But the D-backs got their boost from a pick-six by senior corner back Ben Ditton to open the game’s scoring with 5 minutes, 58 seconds remaining in the first quarter. The interception started a 21-0 scoring run by the D-backs, helping them seize control.

“I set the tone horribly for us with that pick,” Blackfoot senior quarterback Rayce Shelley said. “That started off the game the wrong way. It set the tone of us getting beat.”

Century forced three turnovers Friday and rebounded after allowing 55 points in a loss at Minico last Friday. Blackfoot averaged 3 yards per carry and 6.25 yards per pass attempt.

The D-backs’ defense also came up strong in the final minute of the fourth quarter. After Blackfoot scored on a 14-yard pass from Shelley to Brandon Brower with 3:17 left in the game β€” cutting Century’s lead to 35-20 β€”Β the D-backs’ offense went three-and-out, putting their defense back on the field.

But Century held off Blackfoot’s late charge and forced a game-clinching turnover on downs with just under one minute remaining in the fourth.

“We had some heart and fought hard and battled back,” Shelley said. “We were just gassed. We had nothing else left.”

While Blackfoot struggled to find traction through the air, Adamson and Hudson Williams led the Diamondbacks ‘ receiving corps. Adamson had five catches for 63 yards and two scores, while Williams added six catches for a team-high 70 yards.

Adamson has 243 yards receiving and five touchdowns this season, while Williams has 176 yards receiving and one score. They are two of nine Century pass catchers who are 6-foot or taller.

“Our size is an advantage in the passing game when other teams have smaller corners,” Adamson said.

Brower finished the game with four catches for 43 yards and two scores to lead Blackfoot. Teammate Carter Cooper added six catches for 66 yards.

The Broncos were forced to throw the ball, as Century played with eight defenders in the box. Blackfoot’s passing game showed flashes, but turnovers and dropped balls cost them.

“They all played good and ran great routes,” Shelley said. “A few times, I delivered the ball and they caught it. Some other times, I didn’t deliver the ball. And others, I delivered the ball and they didn’t catch it. We were a little off tonight.”

Century (2-1, 1-0 4A District 5-6) plays Highland at Holt Arena on Sept. 15. Blackfoot (1-2, 0-1 4A District 5-6) hosts Madison on Sept. 15.