By CHIP CIRILLO | Photos by DOUG HOSLER
The harder it rained, the better Brentwood played.
After trailing for most of the first half, once by as much as 14 points, the Bruins rallied for a 49-21 win over host Centennial in a regular-season finale on Friday night.
The first half was dry, but the momentum changed when a steady downpour greeted the Williamson County rivals in the third quarter.
“I just think that we needed to play better,” Brentwood coach Ron Crawford said. “We weren’t getting off blocks, we weren’t tackling very well, we weren’t being aggressive. We were tentative in a lot of things.”
All of that changed in the last two quarters as Brentwood (9-1, 4-1 Region 6-6A) outscored Centennial 36-0 in the second half.
The Bruins finished second in the region behind Ravenwood (8-2, 4-1) after starting the night in a four-way tie with the Raptors, Centennial (4-6, 3-2) and Independence (5-5, 3-2).
Ravenwood handed Brentwood its only loss on Sept. 15 in a game that ultimately decided the title.
The Bruins trailed 21-13 at halftime, but weather became a factor early in the third quarter when Centennial punter Johnny Crouch bobbled a slippery football twice and couldn’t get his kicks off.
Brentwood got the ball on the Centennial 10-yard line on the first one and the Cougars’ 15 on the next one.
Both turned into touchdowns by Bruins quarterbacks as Carson Shacklett scored on a 10-yard run and Kaden Dreier ran one in from 4 yards out.
That gave Brentwood a 27-21 lead with 3:17 left in the third quarter and it got worse for the Cougars from there.
“We knew we could pressure their punts and thought we would get some good plays on special teams,” Crawford said. “Getting two short field really helped us, there’s no doubt. And then getting a lead and getting some confidence. We just played better, man.”
Brentwood’s defense made the next big play, sacking Centennial quarterback Tre Stewart and linebacker Mack Anderton recovered his fumble in the end zone for a TD that increased the Bruins’ lead to 35-21 with 2:02 left in the third quarter.
Dreier’s 7-yard TD run and Jordan Nicholas’ 83-yard TD gallop finished the rally in the fourth quarter.
Centennial had a hard time tackling Dreier, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior.
“We knew it was going to be who was most physical and who was going to run the rock the best,” Dreier said. “Our defense held up and played a great game like always in the second half and the offense started to click.”
A veteran team with 36 seniors, Brentwood played with poise in the second half.
“All three phases really came together in the second half,” Crawford said. “We also reminded them football is four quarters and two quarters didn’t make the game. And the kids responded very well.”
Centennial running back Jariel Wilson went over the 1,000-yard mark as he rushed for 128 yards and two TDs on 24 carries.
“We have to put this one behind us,” Cougars cornerback Jarvel Pope said. “Next game is a playoff game. Not at home, unfortunately, but we’ve got to keep on pushing.”
Brentwood will host McGavock (5-5) in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs next Friday. Centennial will visit Cane Ridge (9-1).