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After a 56-17 victory against the Panthers, the Dragons head off to the playoffs this Friday night, facing Ashland in the first round of playoff games.

DALLAS — The Dallas Dragons football team snapped a six-year losing streak to Central High School on Friday night, when the team clinched a 56-17 Polk County rivalry victory against the Panthers.

“It’s the first time that our class has ever done it (won), so it’s pretty special,” said senior running back Colson Spencer.

After the game, the Dragons celebrated the triumph with friends and family.

“It went really good tonight. We played smash-mouth football until the end,” said senior linebacker Ashton Brecht.

This victory sealed the regular season for the Dragons (6-3 overall, 6-3 Mid-Willamette Conference). Now, the team prepares to travel to Ashland (8-1 overall, 4-1 Midwestern League) on Friday for the first round of playoffs.

“I’m happy that we were able to take care of business tonight,” said head coach Andy Jackson. “This is a big game for us — no matter what’s at stake, this is a big game for us. It’s one that we’ve lost the last few years in some crazy fashion, by like a point, so for us to be able to get the win, it’s great, and it’s great for our community.”

He gave a nod to the Panthers, at the team’s improvement since August.

“I think that Central has done a good job of getting better over the year,” he said. “That’s a football team that is better now than they were in the beginning of the season.”

Senior Colby Johnson led the rushing attack with 127 yards in 16 attempts. He also scored two touchdowns. Senior Ayden Lundin added a touchdown and rushed for 89 yards on six attempts.  Senior Landon Gardner recorded two touchdowns and rushed for 15 yards on one attempt. Gardner also carried for 68 yards on five attempts. Senior Reece Wallace added another touchdown and carried for 55 yards on one attempt.

Throughout the game, there were a few unpleasant interactions between players and negative remarks on the sidelines. Jackson speculated it was because of the rivalry.

“It was really ugly at times tonight, and I don’t know if that’s due to a lot of people knowing each other, but we can’t do be doing that next weekend,” he said. 

By the end of the first quarter, the Dragons had established a 15-7 lead, with the first touchdown scored in the first two minutes from kickoff.

At halftime, the Panthers (2-7 overall, 2-7 MWC) were trailing 35-17, and the Dragons never gave them a chance to catch back up.

“It was rough, of course it was the rivalry, so there is a lot of beef going on,” Spencer said. “But we executed really well, there were only a couple mistakes and we were able to capitalize the next plays, so, it was good.”

Jackson’s expectations for the team as it heads into playoffs remains the same as it has all year.

“Our expectations are that we work to continue to get better each week and I feel like we have, but I feel like each week, we notice things that we have to do a better job of,” Jackson said. “There will always be things to fix.”

The game at Ashland was a long time coming for the Dragons, who haven’t been to the playoffs since 2016, when the team, led then by head coach Tracy Jackson, lost 10-7 to Lebanon in the semifinals.

“We’ve had talks with our coaches and if we get in our heads too much it’s not going to work out,” said Spencer. “So we just can’t think about who we’re playing; we know we’re good and we know we’ve done some things in the past that people are looking at, and we just have to go out and play and know that we have the talent.”

Kickoff at Ashland is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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