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ORANGE COUNTY PREP FOOTBALL

Kennedy Plays Little Ball to Win Big

September 30, 2000|MARTIN HENDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The big plays were obvious when Valencia watched the Kennedy videotape, so Mike Marrujo's staff constructed a game plan that would take away the Fighting Irish's long-gainers.

They succeeded, but it wasn't nearly enough.

Taking what the Valencia defense allowed, Kelvin Beatty carried 16 times for 135 yards and two touchdowns in Kennedy's 28-7 victory Friday at Western High.

Beatty wasn't alone in his performance. His offensive line gave up only one sack, his quarterback completed six of seven passes in the first half in building a 21-0 lead, and his defense held Valencia to 136 yards.

With Rhema McKnight, averaging 28.9 yards per reception, limited to three catches for 40 yards, Kennedy found other ways to win.

"We took what they would give us," Kennedy Coach Mitch Olson said. "They wanted to stop the big play and they did, but we got the victory up front."

McKnight did finally have a big play, an 88-yard punt return in the third quarter, but by that time, it made the score 28-0.

The game was big to Kennedy (4-0) for other reasons.

"Every week it seems like we've been moving up in competition," said Olson, whose team dropped Valencia to 2-2.

That tack has worked well so far, and Kennedy can hope it has provided adequate preparation for next week's game against second-ranked Los Alamitos Thursday night at Western High.

Kennedy didn't need any big plays to build a 21-0 halftime lead. None of Geoff Etherson's pass completions were more than 15 yards, but he did complete seven of his first eight attempts for his final total of 77 yards. He had a 10-yard scoring pass to Jaiya Howze for a 7-0 lead. Howze caught three passes for 31 yards, and also had a 16-yard interception return that preceded a 69-yard scoring drive.

Kennedy had scoring drives of 66, 69 and 13 yards, the last after McKnight's 21-yard punt return. Beatty scored on runs of nine and three yards. Kennedy's defense was led by Nick Hensel, who had had three sacks.

Kennedy outgained Valencia in the first half, 185-79. At game's end, it was a 230-136 margin, though Kennedy played most of the fourth quarter without its starters.

"They're very athletic, very quick," Valencia Coach Mike Marrujo said. "Their speed was fairly obvious, I think."

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