The Centennial Cougars stampeded past Stillwater 41-14 in their playoff opener Friday evening, rolling up 417 yards on the ground.
The Cougars (7-2) will host Edina (5-4) in the second round of the state Class 6A tournament next Friday. The Hornets beat Eastview 20-19 Friday. Centennial lost to Edina 28-20 in the season opener.
"It went well, except that we lost another defensive starter," said coach Mike Diggins, referring to senior linebacker Garret Strating, who has been a stalwart but will miss any remaining games. He broke his ankle in the third quarter. The Cougars have been injury-riddled all season especially on defense.
Connor Zulk scored the first two touchdowns on runs of two and 11 yards and threw a touchdown pass to Noah Larson from 21 yards. Zulk ran eight times for 51 yards while passing 3-for-6 for 64 yards.
Larson also scored on a 29-yard run as he carried the ball nine times for 136 yards and caught two passes for 60 yards.
Austin Wlaschin had a one-yard touchdown while gaining 95 yards in 14 carries.
"We ran the ball very well," sad Diggins, adding that Stillwater seemed determined not to let Zulk, a dangerous running quarterback, beat them, and their adjustments toward that end created space for Larson and Wlaschin.
With the backups in the game, Dominic Zimprich broke away for a 66-yard touchdown. Ricky Hemric was 6-for-6 on extra points.
For Stillwater (3-6), Casey Venske tossed TD passes to Nick Schlender from 45 yards and Max Richardson from 33. He completed 12 of 30 for 170 yards. Jake Day had 15 rushes for 65 yards.
Stillwater ………… 0 7 0 7 — 14
Centennial ……… 7 21 7 6 — 41
Cen — Connor Zulk 2 run (Ricky Hemric kick)
Cen — Zulk 11 run (Hemric kick)
Stil — Nick Schlender 45 pass from Casey Venske (Luke Cullen kick)
Cen — Noah Larson 29 run (Larson run)
Cen — Austin Wlaschin 1 run (run failed)
Cen — Larson 21 pass from Zulk (Hemric kick)
Cen — Dominic Zimprich 66 run (kick failed)
Stil — Max Richardson 33 pass from Venske (Cullen kick)