By Joe Slye, Gem of the Sound Sports Reporter
Kennedy vs. Kamiak Recap – 11/05/2022
The high school football playoffs have arrived. The goal of every team —is to make the playoffs! Some have a goal to get there, while others have a goal to win.
How deep in the playoffs can we go?
Last year, Kennedy Catholic suffered a last-play-of-the-game loss in the opening District playoff game. They wanted to make a deep playoff run but hit a wall on that last play. Feeling good about making the playoffs had lost its luster. The season is over. It is just talking about what could have been and a long wait until next year. With 17 juniors returning as next year’s seniors, the Lancers could look forward to 2022 and build a game plan to make that deep run into the playoffs. So far, in 2022, the Kennedy Catholic football team has executed that game plan to perfection. Step one, schedule some challenging early-season games. That resulted in a close season-opening 26-14 loss to powerhouse #2 ranked Eastside Catholic, followed by a convincing 41-6 win over the local rival Highline Pirates, who are now 9-1, 2A Kingco league champions, and seeded into the State Tournament. In League play, Kennedy Catholic went 6-0, won their fourth consecutive 4A NPSL crown, and had dominant performances in all the games they played. In all wins this season, the Lancers have outscored their opponent by 30 points or more. On Saturday afternoon’s District playoff game, Kennedy Catholic had a dominating 50-8 performance and easily won over the Kamiak Knights. This win surely helps ease the pain from that last play loss of last year’s District game. Now it’s time to see how deep in the 2022 playoffs this Lancer team can go.
This week, the Kennedy Catholic Lancers had to wait to score until their second series of downs. The Lancers received the opening kickoff and went to work. The first series was all passing by Kennedy Catholic. A few completions, a few incompletions, and a few penalties, and in 8 plays, the Lancers moved from their 18-yard line to the Kamiak 46-yard line, where they turned the ball over on downs. One might think this was a slow start with no points scored, but Kennedy Catholic set the tone for a game highlighted by their wide-open passing attack. Kamiak started their first possession with a run for a one-yard gain. On their second play, another run, they fumbled, and the Lancers recovered on the 45-yard line. The Lancer offense was back in business. A pass completion for 20 yards, two incompletions, and a sack at the 43-yard line is 4th down and a long way to go. They are not a team into punting when in the other teams’ territory; the Lancers go for it on 4th down. Quarterback Devon Forehand drops back and launches a perfect toss to Mason Hayes, who hauls it in at the five and walks into the end zone. Add a two-point conversion, and Kennedy Catholic is up 8-0 with 13 passing plays and no running plays in their first two possessions.
With the ball on the 20-yard line after the kickoff for a touchback, Kamiak’s second possession opened with a nice run to gain 23 yards and a first down on the 43-yard line. However, an incomplete pass and two runs up the middle for no gain and Kamiak punts on 4th down. The Lancers start their third possession on their 19-yard line. On the first play, Forehand hands off to running back Ze’ree Alexander, who takes it up the middle, cuts to the sideline at the 30 and outruns the defenders for a score.
The first running play of the night goes 81 yards for a touchdown. A failed two-point conversion, and Kennedy Catholic is up 14-0.
Kamiak’s third possession starts with another nice running play to gain 28 yards to their 48-yard line. Next are three running plays for minimal gains, and now Kamiak is faced with a 4th and 5 yards to go.
They opt to go for it on 4th down and throw an interception. Kennedy Catholic starts its next drive on the 10-yard line. Forehand completes a pass for 32 yards and then three straight passes to Maclean Watkins for 16, 22, and 30 yards, and the Lancers have another touchdown. The two-point conversion was good; the score is now 22-0. Kamiak downs the ensuing squib kickoff on the 36-yard line. Five run plays and a pass play later, it is 4th and 16 at their 49-yard line and Kamiak punts. Isaac Syph fields the punt at the 20-yard line. He heads up the sideline and outruns the defense to score another Lancer touchdown. The two-point conversion run is good, and Kennedy Catholic leads 30-0 with less than a minute to go in the first quarter. The second quarter was also all Kennedy Catholic with two passing touchdowns to Mason Hayes, one for 23 yards and the other for 52 yards. At halftime, the Lancers are ahead 43-0 and are on their way to round two of the playoffs.
The Kennedy Catholic offense and defense controlled this game from start to finish. The offense was impressive with its 357-yard passing performance. Add 152 rushing yards, and you have 509 yards of total offense. The defense held the Knights to just 183 total yards, 61 passing, and 122 rushings. With two fumbles, one interception, and just 3 for 12 on third-down conversions, Kamiak could not mount any consistent drives and was out of the game by halftime.
Now riding a nine-game winning streak into the State Tournament, Kennedy Catholic takes on the Richland Bombers on Saturday, November 12, at 4:00 PM at Highline Stadium. Richland plays in the combined 3A/4A 9 team Mid-Columbia League where they compiled a 6-4 overall record and a 5-3 conference record.
The four losses were close games against the top 3 teams in their league, who are all in the State Tournament, and to Mountain View Vancouver, who made it to District but lost to Rainier Beach.
Richland has played good football against good teams. Last week the Bombers won 31-22 over Eastmont in their District game. Richland showed a balanced attack with 179 yards passing and 190 yards running for a combined 369 total yards. Their junior quarterback Joshua Woodard has a solid arm and found receiver Brody Bocek on touchdown passes of 16 and 26 yards. The Richland defense held Eastmont to 3 of 8 on third down and 292 yards of total offense. Expect Richland to bring a competitive team and a fan base that will travel from the Tri-Cities area to watch them play. The State Tournament has the Bombers as the # 13 seed and the Lancers as the #4 seed in the 4A brackets. SBLive has the Lancers ranked as the #9 team in the state’s top 25 teams.
Being a home game makes things easier, but this will be the most formidable team faced since the Eastside Catholic game in week one. The Lancers should be slight favorites in this game that features two well-coached and competitive teams.
Here are some fun facts: Richland has a unique mascot team name. Previously named the Colts, Broncs, and Beavers, they settled on the Bombers, being a product of the Manhattan Project of World War II history. Kennedy Catholic could consider this a revenge game.
The Lancers and Bombers have played against each other just once before. They met in the 3A State Tournament semi-final game in 1975 on a cold night before a crowd of 3700 people at Zaepfel Stadium in Yakima. Both teams came into the game with 11-0 records.
Richland scored a 27-0 shutout victory to go 12-0 and play in the State Tournament final game, where they lost to Foss 17-7. Richland controlled the game, grinding out long drives and eating time up on the game clock. Kennedy had only 33 plays in the game, and Richland had 72. Kennedy’s all-time great running back, Jim Stone, was held to 34 yards on nine carries. Current Richland coach Mike Neidhold played in the game and threw a touchdown pass. Coach Neidhold has been successful with a 112-49 record winning 70% of the games he has coached, plus a 4A State Championship trophy in 2017. Richland has a long, illustrious history that started in 1912. Over all the years, they have won more than 500 games and 3 State Championships.
Let’s go Lancers!