A rare four-year starter, Matt Wilcox has an abundance of great memories as a Wayne receiver and defensive back. But losing to unbeaten Centerville two years ago isn’t among them.
“The last time we played here at Centerville we were 9-0 and they were 9-0 and we lost,” said Wilcox, the only two-way starter for the Warriors. “That was one of the biggest things. It’s a high and emotional game when it’s a rivalry like this. We wanted to make sure we read our keys and did our thing.”
Check off Centerville from Wayne’s regular-season to-do list. Its offense humming and defense in shutdown mode, Wayne forced a running clock by halftime and dominated Centerville like rarely before, 45-8. Wayne (5-0-1) has won two straight in the longtime rivalry, including 56-17 last year, but leads just 6-5 in the last decade. Centerville (2-4) won 19-14 in that 2014 Week 9 showdown.
It was a dominating performance that has become Wayne’s standard. Centerville rushed for eight yards and most of its 143 yards of offense — and five first downs — came in the fourth quarter.
Wayne sophomore quarterback Rashad McKee was money again, completing 17 of 23 passes for 217 yards and touchdown strikes of 16 yards to L’Christian “Blue” Smith and three yards to Ray James. Smith had five catches for 74 yards and Wilcox four grabs for 76 yards. Fred Pitts scored on two short runs.
Wayne’s Kenyon Byrd also returned an interception 13 yards for a score to help mount a decisive 30-0 halftime advantage.
“I’m really proud of the guys,” Wayne coach Jay Minton said. “They came to a rival game like this and they took it to heart. We could have had a letdown and we could have let up, but we didn’t. They really focused well.”
Wilcox has verbally committed to Bowling Green State University and is among several Warriors who likely will play NCAA Division I football. He teams with McKee, Pitts, Smith, James, Trew Davis and Josh Foster to form an electric offense that doesn’t seem to let up. If there is an area equal to that, it’s Wayne’s defense.
It wasn’t all perfect for Wayne. McKee was intercepted for the third straight game — by Max Wynn — and massive junior offensive lineman Joel Crain wrenched his left ankle and didn’t return. Kicker Garrett Russell was also out with injury. But that’s nit-picking.
“This is the best of three (Wayne) teams that I’ve prepared for,” said Centerville coach Rodney Roberts, who was in his first season with the Elks for that 2014 defeat of the Warriors. “I really believe that. The biggest difference is their five guys up front on offense and their four guys up front on defense. They beat us in every phase. There’s no hiding from that.”