Champlin Park's Shawn Shipman scored his second touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter Friday against Centennial. Photo: RENEE JONES SCHNEIDER email@example.com
Sure, Champlin Park’s football opener Friday felt different. A year ago, the Rebels suffered a one-point loss at Centennial, their lone setback until the Class 6A Prep Bowl.
This time, a 38-21 victory on the Cougars’ field jump-started a season unlike any before, one almost pushed to the spring of 2021.
Sure, the COVID-19 era meant its share of oddities. Face coverings. Limited crowds. No pep bands. But it didn’t take long for Champlin Park players and coaches to focus on the game.
Safety talk is what followed a blocked punt by Hayden Sanders for two points to break a tie and give the Rebels a 16-14 halftime lead.
Social distancing came in the form of long touchdown runs from running back Shawn Shipman (69 yards) and quarterback Cade Fitzgerald (31). Fitzgerald’s scamper, followed by his two-point conversion run, opened Champlin Park’s dominant fourth quarter. The Rebels outscored the Cougars 22-0 in the final 12 minutes.
“I told our offense that I thought we would put up 40 points,” Champlin Park coach Nick Keenan said. “Our offensive line is huge. When we had our blocks, our guys were gone.”
Centennial’s option offense troubled the Rebels early. Quarterback Elijah Ward capped back-to-back scoring drives with short touchdown runs and the Cougars led 14-7.
Trailing going in the fourth quarter, Champlin Park rallied with three rushing touchdowns to defeat Centennial 38-21 in the teams’ first game held in the delayed 2020 season.
The Rebels led 16-14 at halftime on a safety from a blocked punt by Hayden Sanders.
Centennial, playing at home, took the lead in the third quarter on 5-yard touchdown run by Lance Liu.
But Champlin Park came back, getting a 31-yard scoring run by Cade Fitzgerald, followed by a 9-yard score from Shawn Shipman and a 2-yard touchdown from Darius Givance.
Shipman scored the Rebels’ first touchdown and Givance kicked four extra points.
Check back later for more on the game.