By Joe Slye, Gem of the Sound Sports Reporter
Kennedy vs. Mt. Rainier Recap – 10/21/2022
This week, the Kennedy Catholic Lancers waited until the second play of the game to score and then cruised to a 52-7 win over the Mount Rainier Rams. A dominating performance on offense, on defense, and on special teams led the Lancers to a win that locked up their fourth straight 4A North Puget Sound League title. The Senior Day win puts them on an eight-game winning streak with a lot of momentum, heading into the state playoffs. Kennedy Catholic expects to make some noise in the playoffs after a disappointing first-round loss last season.
Kennedy Catholic got things rolling on a 58-yard touchdown run just 19 seconds into the game. Senior running back Xe’ree Alexander took the handoff from senior quarterback Payton Faker on a run play up the middle. Finding an opening at the 50-yard line, Alexander broke to the sideline, followed a wall of blockers, and outran everyone into the end zone. After a two-point conversion, the Lancers were up 8-0 and were just getting started. Sharing the quarterback duties, Devon Forehand led the next Lancer drive that included a perfectly executed 59-yard pass play to senior Maclane Watkins, who received the ball on the 20-yard line where he was behind the defenders, and he easily scored. Another two-point conversion, and the score is 16-0. Next, with Faker back at quarterback, Watkins is wide open in the middle of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown reception. Another two-point conversion led by senior Mason Hayes and Kennedy Catholic is up 24-0. Still the first quarter; here comes another Kennedy Catholic score on a 6-yard pass from Forehand to Hayes. The point after the kick by Hayes makes it 31-0 with 28 seconds to go in the first quarter.
The second quarter was not much different. Kennedy Catholic scored again with nine minutes to go before halftime on a 7-yard pass from Faker to Hayes. Add the Hayes PAT kick, and the score is 38-0. The last score of the second quarter was on a 9-yard pass from Forehand to Kyien Hamilton with another Hayes PAT, and at halftime, the Lancers were up 45-0.
In the second half, things slowed down quite a bit as Mount Rainier took the opening kickoff and put a nice drive together to score on a 14-yard pass. However, Kennedy Catholic took the next possession in for a score on another Alexander 50-yard run that looked like a repeat of his first game score. A run up the middle, cut to the outside, follow your blockers down the sideline, break a few tackles, and score. With 3 minutes to go in the third quarter, the scoring was over, Kennedy Catholic led 52-7, and the starters went to the sidelines to give the backup players some reps.
The Kennedy Catholic defense kept Mount Rainier in check all afternoon. Possession after possession ended with a punt by the Rams on fourth down.
They had one first down in the first half. The Lancers had one punt in the first half. Kennedy Catholic would take each Ram punt and manufacture a drive that resulted in a score. Slowing down the Lancer offense was something Mount Rainier was just not able to do. The Lancers gained 409 yards, passing 290 yards and running 119 yards. The defense held the Rams to just 118 total yards.
With 119 passing and -1 running, the Rams had stalled drives all day that were punctuated with no gain runs, sacks, or incomplete passes. One for nine on third down, and a frustrated Mount Rainier team found little success moving the football. As we have seen all year, when Kennedy Catholic jumps out in the early lead, the opponent needs to change their game plan to get back into the game, but the change is often too little, too late.
The Lancers wrapped up the regular season and are heading to playoffs next weekend! With a group of 16 seniors on the roster, Kennedy Catholic hopes the experienced team and solid North Puget Sound League showing can carry them deep into the playoffs. In winning the last eight games, they have scored 40 or more points and given up just 17 points or less in each game.
The playoff schedules have yet to be announced, but the first-round game is Friday, November 5, at 1:00 PM against the Kamiak Knights at Highline Stadium. Kamiak plays in the 5-team 4A Wesco league. They went 2-2 in league games with losses to the two top teams, Lake Stevens and Glacier Peak, but won against the other two league teams, Jackson and Mariner. Kamiak had a 3-6 record, with their only other win against a 5-4 Edmonds-Woodway team. Four of their other losses were to two good 3A Wesco teams and two good teams out of the Greater St Helens league. Four of the Kamiak losses are to teams ranked in the MaxPreps top 25 all-state rankings.
Just for reference, MaxPreps has the Lancers ranked as the #11 team. Being a road trip makes things more difficult, but this looks like another one of those teams Kennedy Catholic has played all year in their games against fellow NPSL competition…an inconsistent team that is hard to predict. The Lancers should be the favorite in this game, but these are the playoffs, and the opponents can bring some surprises.