By Joe Slye, Gem of the Sound Sports Reporter
Kennedy vs. Richland Recap – 11/12/2022
On Saturday afternoon, the Kennedy Catholic Lancers won their State Playoff game 46-35 over the visiting Richland Bombers. This was anything but a typical game for this year’s Lancer team. Right from the start, Kennedy Catholic was not the first team to score! Richland scored on their first possession to take an early 7-0 lead. Kennedy Catholic responded in a more typical fashion by reeling off four unanswered touchdowns plus a two-point conversion on each score. At the halftime break, the Lancers were ahead 32-7, and this was looking more like one of their regular season game blowouts. However, Richland did not know the word quit and mounted a comeback. In the third quarter, the Bombers held Kennedy Catholic to one touchdown and scored two touchdowns and a field goal to close the gap to 38-23.
Early in the fourth quarter, Kennedy Catholic punched across their final score on a one-yard run by Indiana Jones and took a 46-23 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the game. Richland would not go away, and they made things interesting.
A touchdown with 5 minutes to go and then another with 1 minute to go added some excitement. Richland traveled to the west side to give their best, but Kennedy Catholic ultimately came out as the stronger team. Lancer head coach Sheldon Cross posted about Richland “It was a battle, a win over a really good program, the 2017 4A Washington State Champs! They are a bunch of kids that have a lot of pride, and they were never going to quit; they were playing for their season on the line”.
Talk about anything but a typical Kennedy Catholic game…this one was a complete change of pace for the Lancers. Richland ran 99 plays to only 61 for Kennedy Catholic. Richland had 136 yards on 33 rushing attempts, and Kennedy Catholic had 274 yards on 36 rushing attempts. Richland had 298 yards passing with 32 completions on 56 attempts and one interception to only 122 passing yards for Kennedy Catholic on only five completions on 13 attempts and four interceptions. Coming into the game, Richland was expected to be a passing team but more balanced with the run/pass mix. Kennedy Catholic has featured the high volume pass attack all season, but this game was completely changed from the norm and proved very effective. XeRee’ Alexander led the Lancers with 174 yards on 13 carries, and Indiana Jones followed with 82 yards on 14 carries, and both runners had two touchdowns. The overall yards were close, but the Bombers 434 total yards slightly outpaced the 396 for Kennedy Catholic.
A few other stats help explain how Kennedy Catholic held off Richland. The Lancers had no punts all game, were zero for two on fourth down attempts, and 3 for six on third down attempts. They had some big plays that set up scores. Richland was 1 for six on fourth down conversions and 8 for 17 on third down conversions as they stalled out on too many drives. Kennedy Catholic had 18 first downs, and Richland had 27. Richland had longer sustained drives to show more yards gained, but with no points to show for the effort, they ended up with great statistics but zero points on the scoreboard.
Kennedy Catholic created some timely opportunities to win this game. They didn’t dominate; they just played solid football and overcame their own mistakes. Scoring four consecutive touchdowns after giving up the initial Richland score is how a team can silence the momentum of their opponent. Many teams with four interceptions and one fumble would be done for the day. This Lancer team has a defense that can cover for these mistakes by shutting down the other team’s offense even when a good field position has been yielded.
The run-dominated game plan should be no surprise, as Kennedy Catholic has been productive running the ball all season. Alexander had touchdown runs of 32 and 47 yards, along with other big gains for 34 and 68 yards. These run plays have been in the playbook all season for Alexander. The Kennedy Catholic offense and defense had to work for this win. As a team moves deeper into the playoffs, it gets tougher each week.
The ability of this team to shift from a pass-happy air attack to a grind-it-out running game sends a big message to the next team. Better be prepared for anything Kennedy Catholic needs to do to get a win.
Now riding a ten-game winning streak as one of the eight remaining teams in the State Tournament, Kennedy Catholic takes on the Skyline Spartans on Friday, November 18, at 7:00 PM at Highline Memorial Stadium. Skyline plays in the 4A Kingco Conference, where they compiled an 8-2 overall record and a 5-1 conference record. The two losses were to Lincoln of Tacoma 35-27 (currently 11-0 and in the 3A State Tournament) and Woodinville 17-7, who lost in round one of the State Tournament and ended their season 5-6. Interestingly, Skyline’s last two playoff games were wins against 4A NPSL teams Mount Rainier (won 31-0) and Federal Way (won 33-27). Kennedy Catholic played these teams in the second half of the season and won both handily, over Federal Way 40-8 and Mount Rainier 52-7.
Skyline will usually pass the ball more than they run. In the loss to Woodinville, they passed for 315 yards but rushed for a minus 6 yards.
In their win over Mount Rainier, they had a balanced attack of a run (158 yards) and passed (184 yards). In the win over Federal Way, it was 75% (276 yards) pass, and 25% (91 yards) run. Look for the Spartans to put the ball in the air.
Game time is Friday, November 18, at 7:00 at Highline Memorial Stadium. Ticket sales are online and can be purchased at GoFan