GILBERTVILLE — It’s never easy to dethrone a state champion.
Central City gave Don Bosco its best shot here Friday night, but in the end, it was simply too much Thomas Even for the Wildcats to overcome. The 5-foot-7, 170-pound junior ran for 163 yards on 20 carries and scored five touchdowns, four coming in the first half as the No. 3-ranked Dons posted a 62-37 victory before an overflow crowd at Tom Ryan Field.
Don Bosco (9-1), the two-time defending state champion, advances to the next round to meet Rockford (9-1), a 64-58 winner over Turkey Valley.
Coach Matt Miers’ 10th-ranked Wildcats, back in the playoffs for the first time in 10 seasons, finish at 8-2.
“I just love my guys,” Miers said. “I wouldn’t trade them for anybody. These seniors were freshmen the first year I was here and they bought in and really helped bring this program to where it is today.”
Central City had the ball in the second half, trailing 44-37 after scoring first in the third quarter but turned it over on downs.
From then on, it was all Dons. Even scored his fifth touchdown on a 21-yard pass from Cael Frost early in the fourth. Carson Tenold and Frost each added 2-yard runs as Even was slowed by an ankle sprain suffered in the second half
“That’s just Don Bosco, they are so well-coached,” Miers said. “We’re getting closer. Two years ago, they beat us 78-0 and last year it was 63-21.
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“They started blitzing us a little more in the second half,” he continued. “We just didn’t execute as well and a team like Don Bosco makes you pay.”
Trey Holub closed his brilliant senior season with 169 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Isaiah Damm added 89 yards on 16 carries for the Wildcats.
For Don Bosco, Frost completed 9 of 11 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 18 times for 88 yards and a touchdown.
“Don Bosco is where we want to be,” Miers said. “We have a lot of good players coming back and I’m looking forward to next season.”