By Brad Fauber
WOODSTOCK -- Central probably couldn't have wished for a better start to the 2013 high school football season.
The Falcons opened their schedule with back-to-back blowout wins over John Champe and county rival Stonewall Jackson, a stretch that saw Central outscore its opponents by a combined score of 103-8
That success has sent the Falcons' confidence soaring, and Central will have plenty of momentum heading into tonight's pivotal early-season showdown at home with fellow Class 3A foe Spotswood.
"We're excited about what's to come. We're confident, but we're definitely not cocky by any means," Falcons senior quarterback Hayden Bauserman said before practice on Tuesday. "We know Spotswood is going to be a very tough test, the toughest test that we may face all year. We're still humble, but we're definitely confident going into it."
It's been a while since Spotswood (2-1) and Central (2-0) have met on the football field, but the Falcons should feel plenty familiar with the Trailblazers when the two teams square off at 7:30 p.m. this evening.
Central was on a bye week last week, and Falcons head coach Mike Yew said Central's coaching staff was able to attend Spotswood's match-up against Wilson Memorial last Friday, a game that the Trailblazers won 35-7.
Yew said the Falcons have also seen Spotswood twice on film, and Central has had the added benefit of an extra week of preparation, although Yew said he would have preferred that the Falcons played last week to maintain some of their momentum.
"We just looked briefly at what Spotswood does and we tried to get a basic intro to what they do and just go over things with our kids -- knowing what they like to do running-wise with the leads, the traps and the sweeps," Yew said. "We let our kids just see it. It's kind of a mirror of what we do ... so it wasn't hard for us to practice it and show our kids."
Central's biggest priority on defense will be to slow down the Trailblazers' rushing attack, which is led by senior running back Matt Slater.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Slater carried the ball 30 times in Spotswood's win last week, finishing with nearly 170 yards and three touchdowns. The Trailblazers feature some good size up front on both sides of the football, and Yew said he expects Spotswood to attempt to establish the run early and often, putting pressure on Central's defensive line to get a good push up front.
"My job this week, Coach said it was very important, so I look forward to just doing my job and helping the team," said Falcons senior defensive lineman Caleb Cook, who leads Central with 18 tackles and three sacks. "They've got a pretty big running back who likes to run over people and a pretty tough fullback who will truck you if he can. We've just got to look out for them."
On offense, the Falcons will look to continue the balanced attack that has helped them average 390 yards per game during their first two contests.
Central showed it can run the football in its blowout win over Stonewall Jackson two weeks ago, as the Falcons rushed for 270 yards, including a 130-yard effort from senior Daniel Molina. However, Central's greatest strength probably lies in its passing game, where Bauserman has plenty of reliable targets to throw to.
The Falcons feature six different receivers who have caught at least two passes this season, and five of those six also have at least one touchdown reception. Junior Tommy Caison leads Central's receivers with four catches for 198 yards, and all four of his grabs have gone for touchdowns.
"That's good, because nobody can say 'this is the guy that we need to stop,'" Yew said of Central's multiple offensive weapons. "We've been very balanced and the kids have just done a good job of sharing the load right now."
Bauserman, who has thrown for 445 yards and nine touchdowns already this season, said he expects Spotswood to play a lot of man-to-man coverage on defense, which could work in Central's favor.
"With the weapons we have, I think it's tough for anyone to go one-on-one against us," Bauserman said. "Spotswood's obviously pretty good, and they have pretty good defensive backs, but in the man-to-man coverage with a lot of good weapons that we have, I have a lot of faith in our receivers."
Yew said Spotswood will be one of the toughest tests that Central will face all season, and he thinks tonight's game will give the Falcons a good idea of where they stand in comparison with the rest of the schools in Class 3A.
"It's a great tool. We'll know where we're at when we leave Friday night ... we'll know exactly where Central High School stands in the grand scheme of things," Yew said. "Our program has done a lot of good things the last five years, and we seem like we've taken a step a little more each year. We're going to take the next step and these are the kinds of games that you've got to come in and play well."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD