Juniata gets rematch, falls to Central

Indians lose 49-0 at the hands of Central

Sentinel photo by GARY BARANEC Juniata defensive tackle Joshua Parson (59) wraps up Central’s quarterback Alex Hoenstine (2) during the District 6 Class 3A championship game Saturday, in Altoona.

ALTOONA — Central High School’s first District 6 championship as a member of the newly-aligned Class 3A division was never much in doubt Saturday night. The Scarlet Dragons led from start to finish, putting the mercy-rule into effect by the beginning of the second half, and rolled to a 49-0 rout of Juniata High School in the District 6 Class 3A title game at Mansion Park.

Central, which defeated Juniata 27-7 in last November’s District 6 Class 2A championship game, built a 35-0 lead by halftime and won its third District 6 title in four seasons after bumping to Class 3A this year.

Juniata coach Gary Klingensmith, whose team finished 8-4 on the season, was impressed by the Scarlet Dragons.

“Central has a good football team,” Klingensmith said. “They have it all. We knew they were good coming in, but they’re even better than we thought they were.

“We got in a deep hole at the beginning of the game tonight, and it was too deep for us to crawl out of,” Klingensmith said.

Central coach Dave Baker’s team improved to 11-1 and will take on Karns City — a 35-17 winner over Hickory Saturday — in the opening round of the PIAA Class 3A playoffs next weekend at a site and time to be determined. “I thought that tonight was the best game we’ve played this season. It’s difficult to (win a district title), but the players have worked very hard to get to this point.”

Central moved 80 yards on five plays to the end zone on its first possession of the game, and it was smooth sailing from that point on for the Scarlet Dragons.

Standout senior running back Alex Hoenstine surpassed the 2,000-yard rushing mark for the season by running for 167 yards on 22 carries and three touchdowns. Hoenstine scored on a 3-yard run early in the first quarter to cap off a drive that was highlighted by his own 32-yard run and lefty quarterback Preston Karstetter’s 46-yard pass completion to senior Chase Smith.

Hoenstine later scored on another 3-yard run late in the first quarter to put Central ahead, 14-0, after Scarlet Dragons’ senior Cam Norris blocked a punt by Juniata’s Carl Fowler.

“We know that they (Juniata) are a good team, and we prepared for them,” Hoenstine said. “Our defense was excellent, and we were able to make plays on offense. We played excellent.”

From his halfback position, Hoenstine also threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Smith just 20 seconds into the second quarter to give Central a 21-0 lead.

The Scarlet Dragons went ahead, 28-0 just over a minute later, when Norris blocked another Fowler punt and senior Kyle Dodson alertly recovered it in the end zone.

“Cam Norris blocked the punt, and I saw the ball and scooped it up,” Dodson said. “It feels great to get to play football another week. That’s what it’s all about.”

Norris had a 1-yard touchdown run with 5:09 left in the first half, giving Central a 35-0 lead and effecting the mercy-rule clock at the outset of the second half.

“We got in a deep hole at the beginning of the game tonight, and it was too deep for us to crawl out of,” Klingensmith said.

After a scoreless third quarter, Central posted two fourth quarter touchdowns to set the 49-0 final. Hoenstine ran 1 yard for a touchdown with 10:39 left in the fourth quarter, and junior back Trystan Detwiler added a 1-yard scoring run with 4:01 remaining for the Scarlet Dragons, who racked up 362 yards in total offense.

Central achieved one of its preseason goals by winning its second straight district title.

“We wanted to win our (Mountain League) championship, which we didn’t do, and we wanted to win our district,” Baker said. “Now, we have to re-prioritize. This is a bonus, and now we get to see how far we can go.

“Last year, we won a (first-round PIAA playoff) game, but the games get awfully tough the further on that you go.”