Sep. 3—ALBIA — Seven years in a row.
The Centerville Big Reds shut out the Albia Blue Demons 24-0 on Friday to jet to a 2-0 start on the season. But perhaps just as important to the scarlet and black: They nabbed their seventh-straight Battle of Highway 5 trophy over their 113-year-old rivals from Monroe County.
With the victory, Centerville improves the school record in the annual game to 74-31-8 all-time. The longest winning streak by a team in the series is nine consecutive, which Centerville recorded between 1954-62.
On Friday, the scoring was all Centerville for a second week in a row. They opened the scoring summary with a one-yard touchdown score. Brody Tuttle kept the ball to finish off the drive. After back-to-back offsides penalties on the Blue Demons, Centerville opted to give Tuttle the ball again for a successful two-point conversion, sending the Big Reds ahead 8-0.
Three minutes into the second half, the Big Reds struck again with a two-play, 63-yard drive capped by a 53-yard pass from Tuttle to Connor Stephens. A PAT kick by Stephens sent Centerville ahead 15-0.
With just under three minutes to go in the half, the Big Reds went on another long drive — seven plays for 71 yards. A 31-yard run by Tuttle brought the ball to the Albia 19-yard line. A little later, a pass from Tuttle to Griffin Weber for 11 yards finished the drive off. A Stephens kick put the Big Reds ahead 22-0.
The end of the first half brought two turnovers: an Albia fumble recovered by Weber, then a Centerville interception caught by Albia's Gage Oddo. Neither team advanced the ball meaningfully, and the half ended with Centerville ahead 22-0.
Defense and turnovers ruled the second half, with the only score a safety for Centerville on an errant snap during an Albia punt attempt that went into the end zone. That occurred with 5:02 remaining in the fourth quarter and the sore held steady from there for the 24-0 final.
A calamity second half included three Centerville fumbles and a turnover on downs, and an Albia interception.
Centerville (2-0) will hit the road to face Sigourney-Keota (0-2) in week three. The Cobras are coming off a 23-20 loss to Mid-Prairie in week two. The Big Reds, after a 24-0 win over Chariton in week 1, have not yet allowed a point in the first eight quarters of the season.
Albia (1-1) makes the long drive east to Central Lee (1-1). Central Lee defeated Cardinal 34-14 on Friday.
Beyond the Battle of Highway 5 trophy and fanfare, the two rivals came together to raise $800 for Children's Cancer Awareness as part of special "gold out" game T-shirts sold for a fundraiser.
Albia starting quarterback Justin Keller left during the first half with an apparent injury. His status is unknown. Sophomore Cooper Bradley took his place in formation.
Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.