The Glenbrook Apaches fell behind Cenla 20-0 early in their jamboree Friday night, before roaring back to take a 34-28 win.
The Apaches' Cayden Maloney scored the winning touchdown with just 56 seconds left, and then Jack Parks recovered a Cenla fumble to seal the game.
"I told the kids that they were going to give me gray hairs before the season even starts, and I'm too young for gray hairs," Glenbrook head coach Ryan Porter said. "I think early on, the kids were just over anxious to get out there and go against someone else.
This group has a lot of energy and aggressiveness and what they need to focus on is their technique. I think the first six minutes we didn't play with a lot of focus and attention to detail on our technique. That cause us to get out of position defensively early on and Cenla took advantage of that."
A key injury put a damper on the win. Starting quarterback Connor Clark went out with an undisclosed leg injury and his status for this week's opener against Riverdale in unclear.
Down 20-0, the Apaches regrouped and started their comeback. After a Glenbrook punt, Cenla took possession on their 40-yard line and looked to extend their lead. The Lions' quarterback threw into the Apache secondary, where the ball was deflected into the air. Glenbrook's Quincy Hicks snatched the ball out of the air and raced 55-yards untouched for the Apaches' first score.
Clark completed a pass to Austin Palmier for the two-point conversion to make the score 20-8.
The Apache defense stiffened and a few series later Clark scored the Apaches' second touchdown on a 15-yard run. Later in the quarter, after Clark went out with his injury, Maloney stepped in at quarterback and connected with Logan Clark on a 30-yard pass for a touchdown to tie the score at 20-20.
"We had some kids step up and play well," Porter said. "We had an injury and some kids go down with cramps, and other kids stepped up. Maloney played well, Logan Clark made some plays and Eric Dozier came in and played multiple positions on defense and did an excellent job."
Cenla re-took the lead with 7:05 left on a 20-yard td run. The Apaches responded with a touchdown on their next possession.
A 45-yard run by William Thompson set up the Apaches inside the Lions' 20-yard line. A couple of plays later, Maloney ran in from 13 yards out for the touchdown to cut the lead to 28-26.
After forcing a Cenla punt, the Apaches took over with 1:24 left. Maloney hit Logan Clark for 17 yards and then scrambled 35 yards on next play for the touchdown. Hicks ran around right end for the two-point play to make the score 34-28.
On the first play of the ensuing Cenla possession, Parks took the ball away from the Cenla quarterback and then the Apaches ran out the clock.
"The biggest thing that we'll take from this is that we should believe in ourselves," Porter said. "The kids should feel like they can come back from any deficit to win a ball game. We were put into a lot of adverse situations early on, and the kids responded just like any coach would want his team to respond. They never gave up. But we also need to understand that we need to get starter right at the start and be focused at the beginning."
The Apaches will open their regular season at home this Friday against Riverdale.