SUWANEE - What Daytona Beach Mainland's football team lacked in quantity, it made up for with quality.
The Florida power dressed only 55 players, barely more than half of what Central Gwinnett did Friday night at North Gwinnett, but used superior size and blazing speed to post a 34-14 victory in the Progressive Football Challenge.
Mainland rolled up 405 yards, 285 of it on the ground, to just 163 total for the Black Knights, who were missing offensive stars Diante Drake and Malcolm Moulton to suspensions.
"That's a playoff-caliber team with no weak points in Week 1," first-year Central head coach Ed Stokes said. "We're in Week 1 and they have no weak points. That's a good sign they're going to have a great season.
"We had a lot of adversity, but we can't use that because outside of us, nobody cares. But our kids will come back out and respond."
Central not only had to deal with the suspensions, but also with playing the first game since its previous head coach, Dennis Roland, passed away from cancer in January. Roland was honored between the Central game and the North-Byrnes (S.C.) nightcap for his service as coach at North and Central.
Roland, whose wife and daughter were presented with a plaque on Friday, led North to a playoff berth and the best record in school history in his only season there in 2004.
"That was fitting (for Roland)," said Stokes, who coached with Roland at both schools. "The team before he came (to North) was 2-8 and he took a program that was down and set it up and had the best record in school history. They've had a lot of success at North lately and that was the starting point.
"Even last year at Central, it didn't show in the record, but he took a young group with four returning starters and got the program in good shape. He made it easy for me, all I had to do was continue what he started."
Mainland set the tone early, needing 13 total plays for 87- and 85-yard scoring drives on its first two possessions. The Buccaneers built a 20-0 halftime lead, outgaining Central 263-81 in the first two quarters.
The Black Knights gained 18 total yards on their first 18 plays.
Marlon Lane (13 rushes, 125 yards) scored his second TD early in the third quarter as Mainland built a 27-0 lead. Teammate Darry Evans rushed for 103 yards.
Central finally scored on an 8-yard drive, getting a 4-yard TD pass from Steven Bott to Matt Huber. After falling back behind 34-7, the Black Knights' D.J. Moore scored the game's final points on a 1-yard run.
Mainland (Fla.) 34, Central Gwinnett 14
Mainland: Amari Williams 27 pass from Greg Ross (Anthony Fiore kick) 8:03
Mainland: Marlon Lane 56 run (Fiore kick) 3:34
Mainland: Chevin Davis 31 pass from Ross (Fiore kick) 3:36
Mainland: Lane 19 run (Fiore kick) 8:03
Central: Matt Huber 4 pass from Steven Bott (Bott kick) 1:31
Mainland: Erick Scott 3 run (Fiore kick) 7:37
Central: D.J. Moore 1 run (Bott kick) 2:54
RUSHING - Mainland: Lane 13-125; Darry Evans 12-103; O.J. Ross 2-44; Kelvin Lee 2-9; Tyron Summers 3-6; Erick Scott 1-3; Greg Ross 2-2; Quinn Bell 2-(-7). Central Gwinnett: Ben Tayi 19-54; Moore 3-60; Exzabian Sumpter 1-9; Khary Powell 1-7; Al Mayes 4-(-8); Bott 4-(-34).
PASSING - Mainland: Greg Ross 9-13-0, 120. Central Gwinnett: Bott 9-19-1, 75.
RECEIVING - Mainland: Davis 4-64; Bell 4-29; Williams 1-27. Central Gwinnett: Huber 3-27; Tayi 2-12; Mayes 2-0; Michael Sims 1-33; Sumpter 1-3.