On display was the final score of the game, reflecting arguably Central’s biggest football win since the school opened in 2011.
The Warriors scored 21 points in the first half and held off Union over the final two quarters for a 21-13 Mountain 7 District win — their first over the Bears since 2011, the year both consolidated Wise County schools opened.
“I think these kids grew up tonight,” said Central coach Luke Owens. “That’s one of those monumental wins. My guess is it is probably the biggest win in school history.
“We beat Gate City the first or second year that I was the coach, which was pretty big, but that one right there, that’s just icing on the cake.”
The win all but clinched a playoff spot for the Warriors (5-2, 2-2).
View the photo gallery from the game
“We’re going to enjoy this one, but we’ve got to come back ready to work,” said Owens, whose team hosts Lee High on Oct. 25 before ending the regular season with road trips to Gate City and Grundy.
Should the Warriors win out, they would likely earn one of the top four spots in the Region 2D field — meaning the first home playoff game in school history.
“If we hold serve,” Owens noted, “but we’ve got to take care of our part. We’ve got to focus on going 1-0 these next three weeks.”
Union (6-2, 3-1) dropped into a second-place tie with Ridgeview in the district standings, a game behind front-runner Abingdon.
“We didn’t play,” said Union coach Travis Turner. “We shot ourselves in the foot in the first half and when you fall down 21-0 as well as they were moving the football, we couldn’t get stops.
“Give credit to them. They played extremely hard and we didn’t do a very good job coaching.”
Central mostly stayed on the ground, putting the ball in the air only twice.
“They didn’t have to throw it. We weren’t stopping them,” Turner said. “We’ve got to grow up and move on from it.”
Owens said keeping the ball on the ground was what the Warriors wanted to do.
“We had to come in here and be what we are,” Owens noted. “We’re a wing-T team that’s going to line up and run the football.
“For us to win this football game tonight we had to control the line of scrimmage and I think, especially there in the first half, we did a very good job of that.”
C.J. Crabtree was the biggest beneficiary of Central’s command at the line of scrimmage. Crabtree rushed for 153 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown run, on 19 carries.
“This was a big win for us. We needed to get it and we knew that coming into the game,” Crabtree said. “We knew we had to be physical and hit them right from the beginning and just stay on them the whole time.”
Noah Bolling added 84 yards and an 8-yard touchdown run on 15 carries for the Warriors.
Central’s other touchdown came on a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Ethan Mullins.
Despite being down by 21 points at halftime, Union battled back to make things interesting in the second half.
Mason Polier — who ran for 142 yards and both the Union’s touchdowns on 23 carries — scored his first TD on a 9-yard run on the Bears’ first possession of the second half. Polier’s second touchdown came with 1:29 remaining in the game after a pass from Brody Gibson to Tadyn Roark gave Union the ball at the Central 1.
Union attempted an onside kick after the late TD but failed, and Central ran out the clock.
The Bears are heading into their bye week before ending the regular season with games at Abingdon and at home against John Battle.