CENTER TWP., Pa. — A lot has happened since Central Valley last lost a football game, far too much to fit in this lede, and the world will just have to keep waiting to see a Warriors loss. However, in the time since a Dec. 7, 2019 loss in the 2019 PIAA 3-A championship, Central’s winning ways have not changed.
Although Ambridge wasn’t exactly a knock-out threat to Central Valley, a balanced effort from the entire Warriors team helped Central coast to a 20th consecutive win at Central Valley Football Field Friday night.
Touchdowns from the offense and defense, and a special teams’ safety, fueled a 44-0 shutout for CV without too much resistance from Ambridge. A couple of touchdown passes from senior quarterback Antwon Johnson and senior running back Landon Alexander set up the Warriors for a big night offensively.
The leading men for CV wasted no time impacting the game, Alexander coming up with the stop on the opening kickoff, seniors Sean FitzSimmons and Matt Merritt combining for a five-yard tackle for loss on Ambridge’s first drive and sophomore Bret FitzSimmons blocking the ensuing punt out of the back of the end zone.
And of course, Merritt once again wasted no time in leading a scoring drive again – taking a quarterback run 32 yards to set up inside the one-yard line and carrying the ball in on the next play.
If two points forced by the CV defense wasn’t good enough on the first drive, a fumbled throwing attempt from Ambridge was scooped and scored by CV senior Bryce Wilson to drive the Warriors’ lead to 16-0 before the quarter was half over.
Clearly, it was going to be that kind of night for Ambridge.
A potential answering drive from Ambridge, with the Bridgers moving the ball steadily, picking up big third downs, moved into the second quarter, but a pass falling incomplete allowed CV’s offense back on the field. And the Warriors didn’t make the same mistake.
A quick-moving drive from CV, complete with bruising Alexander runs and a big screen pass taken for a long play — tacking on a roughing the passer call — to set up a 1st-and-goal from the nine. CV junior Antwon Johnson dumped a pass off to junior Jack Bible for a nine-yard touchdown catch to make it a 23-0 game.
Alexander scored his first touchdown of the half, capping a drive that began at midfield to make the score 30-0, and CV junior Deniro Simpson took a screen pass from Johnson 73 yards on the next drive, shaking two unblocked defenders ahead of him with some shifty footwork and quick cuts, to make it 37-0 at the half.
CV scored on all four offensive drives and added nine points on a safety and fumble return touchdown. It was basically perfection from the Warriors.
And the second half wasn’t much different for CV. Alexander began the first half with a special teams tackle and began the second half with a long kickoff return to Ambridge’s 41-yard line. A deep ball from Johnson to CV junior Jayvin Thompson set up the Warriors inside the five, but the drive stalled and a missed field goal resulted in the first CV drive without points.
It didn’t take long for CV to get another opportunity, a Sean FitzSimmons tackle for loss forcing a punt from the Bridgers that only managed to reach the Bridgers’ 45-yard line. Alexander bounced a run outside on the next play, broke a few tackles on the way down the sideline and powered into the end zone to make it a 44-0 game deep in the third quarter.
The only error from CV on the night came in the form a missed field goal to start the third quarter, the Warriors basically perfect otherwise.
Central Valley improves to 8-0 (3-0 in Class 3-A) with the win, and Ambridge’s losing streak hits two games, falling to 1-6 (1-2 in Class 3-A)
Central Valley faces a solid test in the form of a one-loss Avonworth team on the road while Ambridge will host Quaker Valley in a contest of teams without playoff chances this season. Both games have kickoffs scheduled for 7 p.m.