Central scored early and often to put the kibosh on any Hornet heroics in rolling to a 49-7 victory.
When Valley Center and Andover Central squared off in last year's season opener at Andover District Stadium, the Hornets gave the Jags all they wanted. Valley took a one-point in the second quarter before losing by six.
Friday these same two teams kicked off the 2013 season, this time at Valley Center, with a dramatically different outcome. Central scored early and often to put the kibosh on any Hornet heroics in rolling to a 49-7 victory.
Jaguar coach Tom Audley attributes the difference from last year's game to the fact the Jaguars are more experienced and executed well right off the bat.
"We had a couple of big plays. I thought we played pretty well early," he said. "I think we got a pretty good football team."
Audley will get no argument from the Hornets. It was all Jaguars from the get-go as they lit things up with three first-quarter touchdowns.
After holding Valley Center to three-and-out on its first possession, Central's Kier Stamp rumbled in from 49 yards out on its first play from scrimmage. The first of seven extra points by Jace Peckham split the uprights for a 7-0 lead.
Another three-and-out gave the ball back to the Jags at the Hornets' 35. Following a six-yard completion from Blake Meier to Stamp, Lucas Milner gained 21 yards to the 8. Milner knifed his way into the end zone on the next play.
Central's next possession started at its 30 with a Meier incompletion, his only one of the game.
Milner picked up 18 yards on two straight carries before Meier connected with Ryan Banwart from 52 yards out for another TD. With 3:42 to play in the quarter, the Jags had taken control at 21-0.
The Jaguar defense stopped Valley's best early drive just shy of midfield, as the Hornets did not cross the 50 until early in the third quarter. From its 27, Andover Central scored in six plays. A 51-yard pass from Meier to Tyler Harris accounted for most of the yardage. Milner capped it off with his second TD of the game, this time from 5-yards out, three minutes into the second quarter.
Andover Central added a 2-yard scoring toss from Meier to Harris just two minutes before intermission for a 35-0 lead.
Before the crowd could settle back into their seats for the second half, Zach Lock electrified the Jaguar fans by returning the second-half kickoff 97 yards. He cut behind a beautiful block by Alex Johnson at the Valley 15 and dashed in for the score.
Central added another TD on a 56-yard run by Milner to make it 49-0 late in the quarter. The Jags did not score in the final quarter.
"I think we were physical on both sides," Audley said. "I like the way we rallied to the ball and got after people."
Andover Central had six plays of more than 49 yards, including Lock's kickoff return, and four of them went for touchdowns. Audley said he thought the Jaguars played well upfront, mentioning Sterling Brown, Jameson O'Connor, Taylor Hanna, Ryan Burkhart and Alex List in particular.
The Jaguars showed something that was missing most of last year: offensive balance. Behind Milner's 117 yards and three TDs on 11 carries, they ran for nearly 200 yards. Meier was 9 of 10 passing for 206 yards and a pair of scores. Banwart caught three passes for 89 yards and a TD.
"It was a good start, but we've got a ways to go," Audley said.