High school rivalries never die

By Jason Grodsky

Central and Centennial will renew its annual rivalry on the football field at Tommy Stewart field at 6:30 p.m. While the Maroons are a more storied program, with 25 Big Twelve Conference Championships, the Chargers have experienced more recent success, making the IHSA State Playoffs the past five seasons. Coming into this season’s match-up, the Chargers are 5-3 while the Maroons are 2-6. Centennial has won the last five meetings between the two schools. Former Maroon J Leman and former Charger Jacob Willis weigh in on the rivalry.

Leman’s take on the rivalry

Experiences in the rivalry:

“We beat them two out of the four years I was there. Jacob was a good player but was a bit smaller back then. But now he’s gotten a little bigger and I’m glad to have him as my teammate instead of playing against him.”

Favorite memory playing against Centennial: “Drew McMahon knocking Marquis Johnson out. Johnson was this big stud receiver committed to Texas and he ran a reverse and Drew came and leveled him. I’ve never seen a better hit than that in my life.”

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Difference between Central and Centennial alumni:

“Centennial people are just a little different breed than Central people. Drew and I are more of the ruffians, where as they are more clean cut.”

Reason why Central is better than Centennial:

“We have the tradition, we have the colors and we have Tommy Stewart Field! The field that we share is named after our coach. Even though it’s at their school, it’s still named after our coach. Champaign Central even sounds better than Centennial. Their school is just like a prison.”

Willis’ take on the rivalry

Experiences in the rivalry:

“We smashed them both years I played varsity. It’s always fun with the crowds from Central and Centennial. The game gets a lot of hype during the week and the kids talk smack.”

Favorite memory playing against Central:

“Junior year when a snap went over their punters head and we got a safety off of it and ended up winning the game by two because of that.”

Who talks better trash between Centennial and Central alumni:

“We talk trash to each other. I always talk stuff to J and Drew, and even Justin Harrison when he rolls up and talks about his Bloomington team back in the day. But if it’s Central versus Centennial we always win those arguments.”

Reason why Centennial is better than Central:

“We have better athletes. This year I know they have Mikel Leshoure at running back and I’m sure he’ll tear Central up this year. There are just better athletes at Centennial overall.”