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Kennedy's Golden Chances Go to Waste in 27-22 Loss

City Championship: Superb performance by Norris not enough for Golden Cougars.


GRANADA HILLS — It wasn't a lack of opportunity that cost Kennedy High against Banning on Thursday night.

The Golden Cougars had plenty of chances.

They simply couldn't take advantage of them in a 27-22 loss in the first-round of the City Championship playoffs at Kennedy.

It started on Kennedy second possession, when the Golden Cougars (8-2-1) drove 47 yards only to be stopped on three consecutive plays at Banning's one-yard line.

Banning (5-6) drove 99 yards, scoring on a one-yard run by quarterback Damian Satete for a 14-7 lead. The Pilots did not trail thereafter.

"You can't be inside the five-yard line that many times and not score," Kennedy Coach Bob Francola said. "Not in the playoffs."

There were also three times when quarterback Adam Geery was intercepted in Banning territory.

It added up to a frustrating night for the No. 6-seeded Golden Cougars.

The Pilots, seeded No. 11, are the only team in the Championship playoffs with a losing record.

But Coach Ed Lalau said there was never any doubt among the Pilots that they could compete with Kennedy.

Not after they played a schedule that included games against powers Mater Dei and Long Beach Poly, Crenshaw and Taft.

"Our kids just came out and played hard," Lalau said. "There was nothing to prove. When you get to the playoffs, it's a new ballgame."

James Norris, Kennedy's all-purpose threat, rushed for a career-high 170 yards and one touchdown in 13 carries. Tailback Jerome Williams added 93 yards.

Geery completed eight of 15 for 72 yards.

Kennedy kept it close thanks to Norris, who also caught five passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. Norris also returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown in third quarter that cut Banning's lead to 27-20.

"James Norris has got to be one of the best players in Southern California," Francola said. "He kept us in the game."

Kennedy drove to the Banning 10-yard line with 2:13 to play, but Norris was stopped for a five-yard loss on fourth down.

With three seconds remaining, Satete purposely took a safety.

A.J. Tuiteli rushed for 233 yards in 27 carries for Banning, including an 81-yard scoring run.

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