Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019 | 1:01 a.m.
When the Centennial High football team started its offseason program last January, one opponent kept the players motivated. Arbor View, the five-time defending Northwest League champions, had repeatedly given the Bulldogs — and most other teams in Las Vegas — fits.
That changed Friday night. The Centennial seniors got their revenge, finally.
Jordan Smith had a pair of long touchdowns for Centennial, its defense was brilliant for most of the game, and kicker/punter Brayden Bayne delivered the knockout punch in a 17-14 victory over host Arbor View.
On the final play of the game, the Centennial defensive line again dialed up the pressure, breaking through the Arbor View line and recording a sack. As clock hit zero, players on the Centennial sideline jumped up and down in a celebration four years in the making.
This wasn’t a playoff game or a championship, although it does put Centennial in the driver’s seat to win the Northwest. Rather, this game was about something much more — bragging rights. The schools are about a five-minute drive apart, producing a standing-room-only homecoming crowd and electric environment.
“(The win) is great for our community up there,” Centennial coach Dustin Forshee said. “There is no secret, (the rivalry) has been Arbor View’s for years. It is nice for our kids to get one. It is something we talked about in January. This was one of the goals. It’s one of the goals we can scratch off.”
Senior defensive lineman Thomas Lane IV stood with his shoulder pads off after the game. He had an ice bag on his shoulder and sweat on his forehead. Most important, he had a grin of satisfaction from ear to ear.
“We have been working since the summer. No, we have been trying to do this since we were freshmen,” said Lane, the leader of the dominating defensive line. “It feels so good to get the win tonight.”
Centennial never trailed.
Smith scored early in the first quarter on a short pass from Colton Tenney that he took the distance, showcasing his speed and agility. Arbor View tied the game at 7 on a Kyle Holmes 28-yard scoring strike to Daniel Mitchell — one of the few defensive lapses for Centennial.
The secondary was led by Ronaven Mokiao, who had a pair of interceptions, including one in the endzone with about four minutes to play to thwart an Arbor View scoring opportunity.
“We have a great defensive coaching staff. We have great defensive players,” Forshee said. “They’ve bought into what we do. Obviously, this was a big game for them.”
Bayne had a 27-yard field goal for a 10-7 lead in the third quarter. Smith broke loose for a 55-yard scoring run midway through the fourth quarter for a 17-7 lead.
Arbor View scored with 1:42 to play on a Holmes touchdown to Kyri Shoels, and forced Centennial to punt with less than a minute remaining. Bayne, facing a rush, quickly released a beautiful punt that rolled inside the Arbor View 25 to essentially seal the victory.
“Our punter was lights out. He wins us the game kicking it down there,” Forshee said.
The win improves Centennial to 4-0. But there is plenty of football to be played, Forshee stressed after the game. The Bulldogs are just getting started.
“There’s only one way to go — forward,” Lane said.