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PREP EXTRA: SATURDAY FOOTBALL PULLOUT : Kennedy Defense Shuts Down Cypress, 21-3


ANAHEIM — Normally you don't expect a coach to find fault when his team holds the opposition to no touchdowns and 129 yards of offense as Kennedy did in its 21-3 victory over Cypress Friday at Western High.

But when the final gun sounded, Kennedy Coach Mitch Olson sounded very relieved.

"We were lucky tonight," Olson said, remembering the Irish could only take a four-point lead into halftime before putting the game away with two second-half touchdowns. "Their defense took away a lot of things we like to do. I was feeling scared. When you're only ahead, 7-3, something flukish can happen."

But the Centurions (2-5, 0-2) could not neutralize Kennedy running back Charlie Marino, who rushed 18 times for 101 yards and scored two touchdowns, including a 44-yard burst on the Irish's first possession of the fourth quarter. Also bedeviling the Centurions was Irish quarterback Jason Myles, who had touchdown passes of 22 and 57 yards.

The outcome confirmed John Selbe's way of thinking: There's Kennedy (5-2, 2-0) and then there's everybody else in the Empire League.

"They are a notch above," the Cypress coach said. "They have the best defense I've seen in our league. As to whether the Centurions could bring a playoff-like intensity to the contest, Selbe sounded if that wasn't the main goal. "First we have to be able to compete so we can feel good about the rest of the season."

Expected to improve the Cypress demeanor was the use of Greg Brito at quarterback, if his tender ankle would hold up. "He means everything to us," Selbe said, although David Wheeler started at quarterback, and Brito at running back and receiver. Brito occasionally played quarterback in the second quarter. But he completed only two passes for 20 yards, and was held to six yards in 14 carries.

Cypress' best drive in the game was its first. Starting from their 28, the Centurions held the ball more than seven minutes and ran off 14 plays before bogging down at the Irish 17. Bryan Huskey kicked a 36-yard field goal.

But the game belonged to Kennedy, especially Marino. In the second quarter, he rushed for 40 of his 52 first-half yards, consistently breaking through the middle of the Cypress defensive line, and he scored in the half's lone touchdown on a 22-yard pass from Myles, who threw the ball while being tackled.

The Irish had one more drive in the half, driving from their 33 to the Cypress 19 with 14 seconds remaining. But a 35-yard field goal attempt was blocked.

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