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San Angelo Central shoots for share of district crown in finale at Midland Lee

Charles Bryce
San Angelo Standard-Times
The Central Bobcats defense swarms an opponent during a game against Permian on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020.

A week after getting knocked off their perch as the District 2-6A leader, the San Angelo Central High School Bobcats will fight for a share of the title on the road Friday afternoon against Midland Lee in the regular-season finale.

Central (4-4 overall, 4-1 in district) and Lee (7-1, 4-1) are both battling for a piece of the crown with current 2-6A leader Odessa Permian (7-2, 5-1).

Kickoff for Friday's game has been moved up to 2 p.m. at Midland's Grande Communications Stadium since it's the day after Thanksgiving. You can follow live updates at gosanangelo.com or tune in to KIXY 94.7-FM.

Midland Lee's Avery Akbar runs the ball past Central Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, at San Angelo Stadium.

More:Odessa Permian upends San Angelo Central to steal share of district title

The Bobcats shot themselves in the foot last week in a 58-38 loss against Permian in Central's home finale. 

"We're not down in the dumps or anything," Central head coach Brent Davis said. "We just didn't come out on top. But because we were 4-0 coming into that game, we still have another chance. Because of the way the schedule fell, we gave ourselves two chances to get a piece of the title. 

"Last week didn't work out for us, but if we beat Midland Lee this week, we'll get a piece of it. We still have something we're fighting for in the district and the playoffs, and we need to win this game to get a home playoff game. That's a big deal. We've got a lot to play for. We can guarantee a home playoff game if we win, and if we lose it's up in the air."

San Angelo Central quarterback Malachi Brown gets ready to pass against Frenship during a District 2-6A football game at Peoples Bank Stadium in Wolfforth on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. Central won 35-7 to improve to 2-0 in district.

Lee is coming off a 63-40 win over crosstown rival Midland High last week.

Central senior quarterback Malachi Brown established a new program record with 475 yards passing against Permian. He completed 26 of 45 passes and threw for five touchdowns, but he was intercepted twice.

Bobcats senior receiver Jalen Leifeste also had a record-breaking night against Mojo, as he snagged 13 receptions for a school-record 265 yards and three TDs.

Central led 17-6 midway through the second quarter, but Permian pulled even at 17-17 at the half, and the Panthers dominated the second half.

Jalen Leifeste, center, is tripped up after a run for Central during a game against Permian on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020.

"We had four turnovers, and you can't do that," Davis said. "We cost ourselves 14 points easy. And the other pick they ran down to the 1-yard line, and that cost us seven points. You can't do that. 

"We had all kinds of stats with the offense, but they had stats on offense, too. We didn't stop them in the second half. We know that (the Panthers) have that kind of offense and they're capable of it, and we knew we had to score. We just made too many mistakes for it to happen for ourselves, and that happens sometimes."

Permian scored 29 points in the fourth quarter to rally for a 55-44 decision at home against Lee on Oct. 16 to hand the Rebels their only 2-6A loss so far.

Judging by their scores against Mojo, it looks like Friday's regular-season finale will be a matchup of very comparable teams.

Monte'Vious Dobbins, far left, makes a tackle for Central during a game against Abilene in San Angelo on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.

"We run similar offenses and we've had similar experiences," the Bobcats coach said of the Rebels. "All year, they've been ranked higher than us and they've only lost one game. They've got a good football team.

"We know what kind of an opponent we're going up against. (The Rebels) were the favorite at the beginning of the year. We've been looking forward to this, and hopefully we show up Friday ready to go."

The Central coach talked about what concerns him the most about the Rebels.

"Their offense is potent, man," Davis said. "They can throw the ball, and they've got a great quarterback (Mikey Serrano). He can run and throw. And they've got great receivers and a great running back (Makhilyn Young).

"They've been putting points on everybody they play, so that's what you worry about. And defensively, they're aggressive and they get after it. They're just a good Lee football team, and they've got athletes everywhere. They play hard and they've got a lot of tradition there."

Seth Levesque, far left, tries to make a leaping catch for Central during a game against Permian on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020.

Like Brown, Serrano is a dual-threat QB who can hurt an opposing defense with his arm or legs. He's thrown for 1,653 yards and 16 TDs, in addition to rushing for 373 yards and four TDs.

Young has accounted for 1,181 yards and 18 TDs on the ground, and he's averaging 10 yards a pop.

Last week against Midland High, Young ran for 301 yards and three TDs. He's a finalist for the Mr. Texas Football award.

The Rebels' top receivers are: Christian Romero (631 yards, 9 TDs), Shemar Davis (441 yards, 3 TDs), Nate Suttle (231 yards, 1 TD) and Michael Valles (194 yards, 2 TDs).

Getting back to the Bobcats' QB, Central's third-year starter has completed 161 of 273 passes this season for 2,131 yards and 27 TDs against eight picks.

For the third straight year, Brown is Central's leading rusher with 501 yards and four TDs. Junior JV callup Samuel Navarrette is the Bobcats' No. 2 rusher with 239 yards and three TDs.

Leifeste leads Central's receiving corps with 709 yards and eight TDs. Fellow senior Seth Levesque is second with 445 yards and seven TDs. 

Rounding out the Bobcats' top pass catchers are: Tyler Hill (289 yards, 5 TDs), Tripp Noble (190 yards, 3 TDs), Weston Hill (162 yards, 3 TDs) and Cayden Box (99 yards, no TDs).

Defensively, Central's top tacklers are: linebackers Ty Casey (72) and Bryson McNutt (64), defensive end Monte'Vious Dobbins (46) and safety Kyson Snelson (44).

Friday's regular-season finale will be the first afternoon game for the Bobcats this season, and it will have the feel of a playoff contest.

"It'll be great, man," Davis said. "I think it'll be fun. Late in the year when the weather cools down and stuff, I like playing during the day because the weather's usually nice. 

"It's not chilly cold. The only problem is sometimes it's a little windy, but at this time of year it's going to be windy at night, too. It'll be a good atmosphere."

Lee leads the all-time series with Central 28-23-0, but the Bobcats have reeled off six straight wins against the Rebels.

In the most recent showdown in 2017, Central won 52-28.

Charles Bryce is a journalist covering sports in West Texas. Send him a news tip at cbryce@gannett.com. Consider supporting West Texas journalism with a subscription to GoSanAngelo.com.