Top-ranked Centennial entered Friday night's game with Ironwood with very little on the line. The Coyotes had clinched their third-consecutive Desert West Region title when they routed Sunrise Mountain a week earlier, and with a sizable lead atop the playoff power point standings were guaranteed the top seed in next week's playoffs.
Ironwood's Eagles however, had much on the line-an upset of the Coyotes would assure them a spot in postseason play, while a loss would likely end those dreams.
Even with a sizable portion of Centennial's starters benched in honor of Senior Night, the Coyotes overcame two lost fumbles and a bevy of penalties to defeat Ironwood 44-0.
Centennial would get their first score with just over a minute left in the first quarter, when senior lineman/tight end Bryan Gabbard would rumble 24-yards to the Ironwood two on a roll-out pass from quarterback Mike Hansen. The catch set up senior back John Hughes' twenty-first score of the year, and the ensuing point after put Centennial ahead 7-0.
Hughes would score his second touchdown of the night soon after, sprinting 55-yards for pay dirt the first play after Centennial took over possession of the ball. Hughes would score three more times on the night, further asserting his presence as the focal point of the Coyote offense.
Centennial's defense continually thwarted any Ironwood advances, and the return abilities of Hughes and junior receiver Sean Dumdie kept their offense in ideal position all night. The team's third scoring drive of the night illustrated this, with Dumdie's and Hughes' offensive contributions being capped by a five-yard score from the senior back.
Hughes would once again wow the crowd before the end of the first half, this time via the air. After being flushed to the right and the ball on the Ironwood 36, junior quarterback Dain McFarland heaved the ball down field, creating a jump ball situation between Hughes and two members of the Ironwood secondary. Not only did the five-foot-six Hughes make the catch, he exhibited great body control in landing just inside the sidelines to cap the play.
Hughes' last score came on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, as he out-ran the Ironwood defense for a 71-yard score to push the Centennial lead to 35-0. He would cap the evening with season-bests in both rushing yards (206) and touchdowns (five). A 23-yard field goal by Ryan Shaugher and a three-yard touchdown run by Jebron Harrington would close the scoring for the night.
Centennial's defense asserted it's dominance over another opponent, recording their fourth consecutive shut down. Coupled by Hughes' career night and the Coyotes were able to overcome two turnovers and heavy penalties.
Through nine games this season (he sat out against Tolleson) only Desert Vista has been able to contain Hughes. With that said his final regular season game at Centennial might have been his best. Defensively, Austin Garday was all over the field while also recording a sack.