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Published: Saturday, 8/23/2008

Irish batter Bobcats

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Central Catholic's Brad Rogers carries for some of his 72 yards before getting stopped by Ryan Ireland (77) and Zach Clifford. Central Catholic's Brad Rogers carries for some of his 72 yards before getting stopped by Ryan Ireland (77) and Zach Clifford.
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As three-time defending City League champion Central Catholic kicked off its football season against visiting Bowling Green last night at Gallagher Stadium, a couple things played out as expected.

The Irish have a sound defensive unit, and they can run the ball.

Other areas may need some work, but, on this night, Central's trump cards dealt the Bobcats a 24-7 loss.

The win gave Greg Dempsey (70-24) the most head coaching wins in Central football history at the start of his ninth season. He passed Al Sacksteder, who was 69-43-9 from 1925-38.

With six starters back along with Alabama-bound linebacker Mike Marrow, a transfer from New Albany, the Irish defense yielded only 113 total yards (seven rushing) and just three first downs in the game.

"We were fundamentally sound," Irish defensive tackle Doug Williams said. "Everybody read their keys and did what we were coached to do all week, so we had a good outcome. If everybody does their job, we're going to be a tough team."

One of BG's first downs was a 61-yard first-half completion on a secondary breakdown. Another came when Bobcat punter Adam Crawford dropped a snap but improvised for a 14-yard first-down run early in the fourth quarter.

"We thought we had an offensive game plan that would work," BG coach Jeff Cullen said. "Some of it they just took away from us, and some of it didn't get executed correctly, or, as coaches, we didn't get it called right.

"Offensively, we thought we were ready to go. Clearly we were not. Their defense is pretty good, but we have more ability than what we showed tonight."

Central's power run game - led by its trio of linebacker/backs - churned out 215 of the team's 266 total yards on 56 ground attempts. Marrow led the way with 96 yards on 21 carries, Iowa-bound Brad Rogers had 72 on 15 tries, and fullback Dave Pickerel added 27 on three totes.

The Irish needed just five plays to cover 50 yards and score on their first possession of the game.

New quarterback Dave Walender, a junior transfer from Bedford, passed 13 yards to Pickerel to start the march. Marrow capped it with a three-yard touchdown plunge 3:38 into the game.

The Irish hammered away with 12 straight runs on a 36-yard TD drive that culminated with 4:25 left in the half on Rogers' one-yard run for a 14-0 lead.

BG's initial first down of the game was the 61-yarder from Ball State-bound quarterback Aaron Mershman (8-for-18, 106 yards) to Nick Miller. Three plays later, Mershman found Alex Simon on a nine-yard TD strike with 2:47 left in the half.

"We had some first-game jitters, but I was happy with the overall effort and execution," Dempsey said of his defense. "Holding a quarterback and a receiving corps like that to seven points, they did a good job."

"We have got to get better offensively. We had some good effort at times, especially early. But we have to be able to sustain it."

Central added Kyle Burkhardt's 37-yard field goal and Marrow's two-yard TD run, both in the third quarter.

"It was a good experience," Marrow said of his debut with the Irish. "I liked the atmosphere. We studied film pretty well, and we just knew everything they were doing. We wanted to watch [Mershman and Crawford] because they were their main players."

Contact Steve Junga at:

sjunga@theblade.com

or 419-724-6461.



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