For the Central Bears, accepting defeat has become a rite of passage the last few seasons. Learning to win, however, can be a whole different beast as an overconfident Central squad fell to the host Hudson Cobras on Friday night, 34-21.
Coming off a 14-9 preseason victory over Williston last week, the Bears (0-1) might have been riding a little too high for their own good.
“We got a little too big for ourselves after finally winning,” first-year Central skipper Chris Sands said. “We have to learn how to win. We came in feeling like the Dallas Cowboys and not a high school team.”
For a team that has gone 6-44 since 2009, with three of those wins coming by forfeit, Sands has already instilled a fighting mentality within this Central squad.
After falling behind 6-0 on a Billy Werner 20-yard scamper, Central would answer back by the end of the first quarter tying the score at 6 when quarterback Cody Brooks called his own number and rushed it in from 15 yards out.
Hudson would respond with two scores in the second quarter by quarterback Joey Caruso, who scored on runs of 10 and 12 yards, giving the hosts a 20-6 lead at the half.
The 20-6 deficit seemed larger for the Bears as they saw Brooks leave the game with an undisclosed injury, and a bunch of sloppy tackling.
“We overcame tonight and had a lot of guys step up,” Sands said. “Losing Cody hurt, but guys stepped up and made plays and we had a chance to win it at the end.”
Central scored to open the second half on a Davonte Bates run and cut the lead to 20-13 with 9:39 left in the third quarter.
The Bears would get no closer, however, as the Cobras would score 14 straight before the Central added a late touchdown.
Hudson (1-0) finished last season 6-5 en route to a playoff spot, and Sands acknowledged how playing tough competition like the Cobras could pay dividends for his team later on.
“Take nothing away from Hudson,” Sands said. “They played terrific, and they were a playoff team last year, but I’m proud of my guys for going toe-to-toe with them and giving themselves a chance to win.”
With Brooks’ status uncertain for the Bears tilt next week at The Villages, Sands said his team had a lot of work to do.
“We moved the ball well but had some drives stall,” Sands recalled. “However, there needs to be better tackling. We can’t come out and tackle like we did tonight. There needs to be some work done.”
While starting the season with a loss wasn’t part of the game plan, Sands was confident in his team’s ability to rebound quickly and get back to the winning ways.
“For some guys this is a humbling experience,” Sands said. “You want to win every game you play, but now we put this behind us, step off our pedestal that some guys thought they were on and get back to winning.
“Throughout the week some guys forgot the struggle it took to get on that pedestal and now they can remember how good it felt to win, and can get back on there next week.”
Hudson 34, Central 21
Qtr. Scoring 1 2 3 4
CEN 6 0 7 8 — 21
HUD 6 14 0 14 — 34
HUD – Werner 20 run (Kick failed)
CEN – Brooks 15 run (kick failed)
HUD – Caruso 10 run (Kick failed)
HUD – Caruso 12 run (Caruso run)
CEN – Bates 20 run (Altieri kick)
HUD – Ambrowsky 10 run (LaRoche kick)
HUD – Werner 25 run (LaRoche kick)
CEN – Wyatt 60 run (Smith run)