Three-game winning streak carries ‘Stangs into tonight’s playoff game

Central faces Andover for second time this season in first-round home game


The Mustangs have celebrated six victories this season and hope to be in the winner’s circle again after tonight’s home playoff game against Andover.

After clinching the league championship last Friday with a 49-8 win at Ark City, the Mustangs face the Andover Trojans in a win-or-go-home playoff game at Salina Stadium.

The Mustangs are riding some momentum coming into this game, winning the AVCTL II for the first time since 2005 and are on a three game winning streak.

“I think any time you’ll be able to play at home or win a big one like we did, there will be some momentum,” head coach Mark Sandbo said.

The Mustangs have improved throughout the year, but Andover will be much tougher than they were in Central’s 54-44 week four victory, Sandbo said.

“I think everyone is getting better,” Sandbo said. “They’re well coached so they’ll come out with a couple new wrinkles.”

Sandbo also believes that they’re a much better team than their 14th seed indicates. Part of the reason for that seed was Andover’s difficult schedule, Sandbo said.

“By no means do they play like a 14 seed,” he said. “That’s just the nature of the beast playing in the AVCTL II, knowing the gauntlet of elite teams that it is.”

Central is a young team, but Sandbo said he expects his guys to hold up well against playoff pressure.

“Week in and week out, there’s been high pressure games,” Sandbo said. “I think our younger guys who came in without varsity experience have been battle tested.”

Even with the pressure of playoffs, the coaching staff are still treating each game like it’s the most important of the year.

“I think with the playoffs, there is naturally going to be pressure,” defensive coordinator Austin Kingsbury said. “However, we’ve told them it is just like any other week: It’s the most important game, because it’s the next one.”

Having the same rushing attack as week four could be the key to the Mustangs winning on Friday night.

Against Andover in the regular season, senior running back Kenyon McMillan and junior quarterback Gunnar Gross ran for a combined 453 yards and seven touchdowns.

The pass game could also has been reliable, with Gross completing 67 percent of his passes for 1,334 yards, 12 touchdowns and only one interception this season.

Another possible key to helping the Mustangs win is an improving defensive line, which allowed a season low 112 rushing yards against Ark City.

“Our defensive guys took a big step in the right direction,” Kingsbury said. “It’s really their confidence and their execution that are going to drive how we do as a defense.”

The Mustangs will have to be disciplined to win, Sandbo said.

“We want to play emotional, fast, and high energy,” Sandbo said. “We have to keep our emotions in check.”

The team is focusing on this game only, as it is too important to look past, Sandbo said.

“Our expectation every year is go win in November, and it’s not November yet, so we want to take care of this one then move on,” Sandbo said. “Andover is too good of a team to look anywhere except for right in front of you.

“I think these kids are ready for this opportunity and I think they’re excited. If we play well and don’t turn it over, then hopefully we’re celebrating on Friday night.”