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Granada Hills Stays Unbeaten by Holding Off Kennedy, 16-13


GRANADA HILLS — You have to see it to believe it.

Once a football team stuck in mediocrity, Granada Hills High's startling turnaround continued Friday night.

A 45-yard field goal by Tommy Garagliano, a 19-yard touchdown reception by Peter Gunny and a one-yard touchdown run by Omari Mack provided the offense and the unbeaten Highlanders held off host Kennedy, 16-13, in a Northwest Valley Conference game.

Linebacker Josh Roepke intercepted a pass with 1:16 left on the Kennedy 14-yard line to preserve the victory.

It's no longer a secret as to how Granada Hills (7-0, 4-0) has gone from a 1-9 team last season and 3-27 team over the past three seasons. The team is playing great defense and limiting its mistakes.

No team has scored more than 14 points against the Highlanders. Kennedy (4-3, 2-2) kept the game close because of two rare Granada Hills turnovers.

Gunny fumbled a punt in the second quarter, setting up Jerome Williams' three-year touchdown run that gave the Golden Cougars a 7-3 lead.

It was the first time this season Granada Hills has trailed.

Tailback Omari Mack lost a fumble in the fourth quarter, enabling Jason Jones of Kennedy to score on a 25-yard run with 7:07 left, cutting Granada Hills' lead to 16-13.

The Highlanders held a 10-7 halftime lead, but their offense struggled. Quarterback Jason Winn completed 13 of 28 passes for 164 yards. He was just four of 14 in the second half.

The problem for Kennedy, though, is that it could never move the ball when it needed to. But that's the way it has been for Granada Hills' opponents all season.

With safeties Gunny and Gerald Jones providing excellent coverage, linebackers Roepke and Adrian Padilla wrapping up ballcarriers and end Brad Cohn making his share of tackles, the Highlanders refuse to surrender big plays.

Jason Jones of Kennedy rushed for 113 yards in 22 carries, but he didn't hurt the Highlanders except for his fourth-quarter touchdown run.

There is no denying the impact the return of co-coaches Darryl Stroh and Tom Harp have had on the Highlanders.

"We're rejuvenated," said Granada Hills defensive back David Doetzel, who didn't play football last season but made a key defensive play in knocking the ball loose from receiver Matt Garnas on a fourth-down play.

But Granada Hills won again.

"No, it still hasn't sunk in," Roepke said of the Highlanders' unbeaten start. "It's hard to believe."

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