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MOWEAQUA — In Central A&M's first home quarterfinals game since its coach was a player for the team in 2001, the community put on a show.

There were pregame fireworks, signs, megaphone rally cries, a noisy procession of trucks, a painted Raider's face.

Despite the support, visiting Argenta-Oreana (12-0) ran all over the Raider defense, breaking four touchdowns for more than 50 yards, and earned a spot in the Class 1A semifinals next week with a 56-21 win. The Bombers will host Camp Point Central at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Argenta frustrated and quieted the home crowd by getting to a 22-0 first quarter lead and maintained the rushing attack throughout the game.

After junior receiver Jacob Paradee won a jump ball for a big gain and senior running back Gus McCoy powered in for a touchdown, there was a growing sense of hope for Central A&M, which pulled within 22-6. Fans got even louder as the Raider defense followed the score by putting Argenta in a third-and-20 situation.

But a shallow cross to junior Makail Stanley gained 16. Then, on fourth-and-4, Central A&M jumped off-sides to give up a first down. Argenta took advantage of the unfortunate string of plays and scored on a pitch to Stanley.

On the opposite side of Mark Ramsey Field, Argenta's fans were a rowdy bunch, too.

“This atmosphere here is the rivalry from last year,” Stanley said. “They beat us our second game last year in double overtime. And we beat them in the playoffs. So coming back this year, being in the quarters, it was amped up. If you look around, there's stuff everywhere illustrating that. The fans were crazy.”

Despite the loss, it was a memorable day for Moweaque.

“There's very few places in the state of Illinois that do it like this place when it comes to playoffs,” Central A&M coach Brent Weakly said. “Having played here, gone through this, people were asking me what I expected. I said, 'I can't describe it. I can just tell you this: It'll be something that you haven't been a part of or seen.' I think our fans outdid themselves again.”

Makhi Stanley, Makail Stanley, Josh Williams and Skylar Peterson all broke big plays on offense for Argenta. When Williams, the quarterback, left the game with an injury in the second quarter, Peterson took over. The effortless, shared barrage continued even still.

“We all love him,” Makail Stanley said. “We all look up to him. So when he got out, we were just appalled and we were upset. I think that pushed a lot of us harder.” 

Paradee racked up 110 yards on seven catches for Central A&M. Given his play-making ability, Makail Stanley said those numbers could have been much higher.

“(The game plan) was lock down Paradee, number 3,” he said. “The kid's a natural. He carries the ball well. He catches well. He's not afraid to get his body into it even though he's under stature. Locking him down was our number one priority, and if we could do that, the game was under wraps. So I think we did a very good job.”

On their final drive of the first half, it was not Paradee, but Cord Fenton who caught a touchdown pass from Connor Heaton to score and gain some momentum.

That momentum quickly dissipated once the second half began. On Argenta's first play, Makhi Stanley broke a tackle and ran for a 79-yard touchdown. On the first play of the next drive, Peterson outran everybody for a 99-yard touchdown run.

With the loss, Central A&M (the 1A 13-seed) ended its season 8-4. It had to upset a 4-seed team to make it past the first round of the playoffs.

“I'm really proud of the kids and how hard they played and how much they bought in,” Weakly said. “For some of the guys who have worked their butt off for me for four years, it's going to be hard to see them leave. I appreciate all their hard work. If we continue to have success, they can take pride in that because they helped turn stuff around.”

Williams, whose injury Saturday was minor, is expected to be back for the semifinal game. It'll be Argenta-Oreana's first home semifinals game, coach Steve Kirk said.

“It's nice,” he said. “It's nice to be in the final four. We've certainly got our work cut out for us. We're excited to be hosting the first semifinal in school history and it's going to be exciting for our community.”

“It's surreal, honestly,” Makail Stanley said. “It's just crazy to think about.”

 


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