St. Xavier coach Mike Glaser may have been concerned about the Tigers' defense, but after Friday night's 27-13 victory over previous undefeated Central the veteran skipper was all smiles.
Brad Schickel's long kickoffs and a staunch Tigers defense before 6,792 fans kept visiting Central buried deep in its own end of the field for most of the first half while St. X (4-2) -- the state's No. 10 team in The Courier-Journal's Litkenhous Ratings -- jumped out to a 20-0 lead.
When Central -- 5-1 and the state Class 3-A champion in four of the past five years -- closed to 20-13, St. X's Charles Walker reeled off a 72-yard touchdown run that put a dagger in Central's hopes of having its first unbeaten season since 1944.
"Our defense played really well," Glaser said. "We have struggled defensively the past several weeks mainly because of mental mistakes. We played much smarter tonight. Connor Ackerson (defensive end) played outstanding ball. So did Deonte Clyburn (linebacker). We're going to have to find someone else to play free safety (where Schickel plays) because he's playing too many snaps. But's he's a good defensive player."
Central is now 0-31-2 versus the Tigers.
Walker, a junior who scored St. X's first TD on a 20-yard run, finished with 136 yards on 18 carries, as the Tigers finished their last prep before meeting No. 1-ranked Trinity next Friday at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. The Shamrocks handled Indianapolis Cathedral 24-16.
The two runs on which Walker scored looked like the same play off the right side, but he said they weren't.
"The first one was a pitch," he said. "The other one was through the four hole. The front line did a beautiful job blocking. All I had to do was read the hole and run."
Ackerson put Central in a deep hole right off the bat. He tackled Central quarterback Taeshawn Gibbs for a 15-yard loss at the Yellowjacket 1-yard line. St. X took over at the Central 37 after Central punted. Walker scored three plays later on a 20-yard run.
"Putting them in a hole made our job special," Ackerson said.
In the first half, Central started on its own 17, 20, 20, 11 and 19.
"Field position killed us," Central coach Ty Scroggins said. "We couldn't move the ball. St. X's lines manhandled us. We've got two weeks to get ready for our district play. Now we can stop talking about going undefeated and get back to work."
Schickel kicked field goals of 40 and 30 yards for a 13-0 margin before Treyveon Percell broke up the middle for a 20-yard TD run to make it 20-0 with 9:18 left in the first half.
"I'm six for six (on field goals) this year," Schickel said. "We had to step up on defense tonight. We played well in the third and fourth quarters against (Cincinnati) Moeller last week. This is the first game we've gone all-out and finished strong on defense."
Central's offense woke up after Devonte Yelder ran 14 yards on a faked punt to the St. X 45. Deris Cox gained 44 yards on the next play. It took the Yellowjackets three more plays to score with Gibbs rolling left for 2 yards with 5:27 left in the first half.
St. X limited Cox to 78 yards on 16 carries, but his 3-yard TD run cut the Tigers' lead to 20-13 with 1:58 left in the third quarter. Two plays after the ensuing kickoff, Walker scored from 72 yards out. Central drove to the St. X 32 later before linebacker Andrew McCormick recovered a Yellowjackets fumble, after the ball carrier was hit by Ackerson.
St. Xavier--Charles Walker 20 run (Brad Schickel kick); St. Xavier--Schickel 40 FG; St. Xavier--Schickel 30 FG; St. Xavier--Treyveon Percell 20 run (Schickel kick); Central--Taeshawn Gibbs 2 run (kick blocked); Central--Deris Cox 3 run (Idriss Kera kick); St. Xavier--Walker 72 run (Schickel kick).