By Kent Smith
By Kent Smith
Special to the Herald Democrat
CELINA — Homecoming on your first home game of the season is a bit atypical. So is playing your first home game during the seventh week of the season. For Celina, however, the results were typical Bobcat football.
Celina pushed through an early defensive battle for a 56-17 win over Carrollton Ranchview in the District 10-3A opener on Friday night.
"We’re really young on both sides of the ball," Celina head coach Bill Elliott said. "This was our first home game we’ve played all year long and for those young kids, it was their first home game here in Celina. I think there were some nerves to start out with. Once we got rolling and got that stuff out of the way, they really took over."
Things weren’t rolling for either team early on as defenses set the tone in the first half. Celina (7-0, 1-0) held Ranchview (4-3, 0-1) to only four rushing yards on 19 attempts. On the other side, Oklahoma defensive lineman commit Brandon Glenn dominated Celina’s offensive line, helping his team hold the Bobcats to a net of minus-9 yards on the first two drives.
Celina’s only score on its first four possessions came after a poor punt put the start of the drive at the Ranchview 31. Collin Schmid capped the three-play drive with a nine-yard touchdown run off tackle.
As the game wore on the Bobcats strung together key plays on special teams. A punt that pinned Ranchview near the five-yard line, coupled with a short punt by Ranchview set up the first score.
When Raghib Ismail, who had 137 yards and a touchdown on four catches, ripped a 43-yard punt in the closing minute of the first half, it appeared the Wolves would take both momentum and hope into the locker room. Just minutes before, Ranchview quarterback Keidrien Waley went untouched for a 29-yard touchdown on an option keeper to cut it to 14-7.
However, A 57-yard punt return by Connor Torbert set up an 18-yard Riley Nebeker touchdown reception from Nathan Elliott to close the half.
Celina’s Micah Nelson took the opening kickoff of the second half two yards deep in the end zone, then blew by everyone as he streaked 85 yards down the left sideline. DeShawn Davis, who had a 73-yard touchdown catch earlier in the game, scampered eight yards off right tackle for a touchdown only a minute into the half for a 28-7 lead.
Ranchview, which dressed out only 32 players and played most starters both ways, began to wear down under the quick pace of Celina’s offense.
"That’s our philosophy — we go fast," Elliott said. "That’s what we’ve done all year long is be able to wear people down until late in the game. Our players are conditioned real well and they just keep going an going. We needed to do that. We thought we could do that to him as the game went on. He’s tough."
Elliott gave Celina solid production from the quarterback spot with three touchdowns — two TD catches by Cash Conder — while leading the Bobcats in both rushing and passing with 70 and 209 yards respectively.
Will Smith came in during the fourth quarter and went 60 yards for a touchdown on his only carry of the game.