HERMITAGE – While West Middlesex won the game, Kennedy Catholic's Golden Eagles earned some respect.
Ian Smith secured a game-high 107 yards rushing and Colby Johnson's 6-yard, 3rd-period run served as the lone touchdown, leading West Middlesex to a 10-0 Region 1 win over Kennedy Catholic.
In the Saturday matinee at Butala Stadium, West Middlesex mentor Mark Means gave the Golden Eagles praise for their play.
"Hats are off to Kennedy (0-2, 0-2). I respect people that will come and bring it, and will play hard, and that's what they did (Satur)day, and I have all the respect in the world for those guys 'cause they played their butts off," Means said.
Although his Big Reds recorded the game's pivotal play – Ian Smith's end zone tackle of Sky'ler Thomas on a 3rd-and-21 play, resulting in a safety – Means was not amused by Middlesex's lack of offensive execution, 8 penalties and 4 fumbles, 3 of which were lost.
"It's a function of the kids, and them doin' what they're taught to do and executing that to a 'T' – that's basically what it is. I hate to put it on them," Means admitted, "but that's what it is. They need to show up, they need to do what they're coached, and they need to execute.
"That's something that we've gotta look at ourselves as a coaching staff and stuff that we're doing that we need to change," emphasized Means, the 3rd-year mentor who has established a higher standard for his program's players.
"We're definitely beyond that point. There's an expectation, and we obviously didn't deliver that (Satur)day," continued Means, who admitted, "Any time you get a shutout, that's great – your defense is playing well. But offensively we just sputtered around and we had a lot of penalties. A LOT of penalties, and we looked sloppy in that regard. That's not 'Big Reds Football.'
"Last week (a 27-20 loss to Reynolds) was a total different ballgame – we had three penalties for fifteen yards. We were able to get off the ball and we looked better then. So we took a step back (Satur)day. But, again, my hat's off to Kennedy ... " he added.
End Kole Tarary keyed Kennedy Catholic's defense, which sacked West Middlesex quarterback Ty Tate 5 times for 17 yards in losses. The Golden Eagles coerced Middlesex into another 3 miscues on fumbles.
"I thought Kole Tarary played very well ... Matt Jordan – we had 'QB spy' with him. Our whole emphasis this week (in practice) was to hold Ty Tate. We knew that he could hurt us with his legs, and I thought that we absolutely bottled him up," summarized 1st-year KC Head Coach Joe Harvey.
Tate tallied 20 net yards rushing – though he lost 17 out of punt formation when he mishandled the snap, one of his 2 fumbles. However, he hit half of his 10 tosses, including a quartet to Chris Smith for 76 yards.
The free kick following the safety was returned 22 yards by Alex Rea to Kennedy's 33-yard line. Four plays later Johnson scored from 6 yards out with 4:34 remaining in the 3rd period for West Middlesex (1-1, 1-1).
Kennedy Catholic is in its 1st season as a varsity program since 2013, and the Golden Eagles' growing pains are apparent. Only 17 players dressed, meaning most were playing non-stop on offense, defense and even some on special teams. West Middlesex ran 59 offensive plays.
"That's what a lot of people don't understand," Harvey began. "We've been playin' with seventeen guys. You have, maybe, three or four guys who can't really play a position, per se ... I mean, it's almost impossible to put a competitive football team on the field. And we came out there and just 'pinned our ears back' and I thought that we played very, very well.
"Like I said, s-e-v-e-n-t-e-e-n players. People have NO idea how hard that is," Harvey continued. "I have coaches who have to run (plays) in practice, just to give us an eleven-on-eleven look, 'cause we don't even get a chance to go eleven-on-eleven – ever! – with seventeen people. One guy runs cross country and plays soccer ...
"So, people don't understand how hard it really is with seventeen people," Harvey concluded.
Notes: Elijah Smith secured 1 1/2 sacks for KC, while Jordan added another, and Tarary added a shared sack; also, Sean Yeager and Malachi Owens combined for another 4th-frame sack of Tate. ... The Big Reds' Rea ran for 36 yards on only 8 carries. ... Eddie Lowe and Nick Kobielus collected QB sacks for Middlesex. "I thought our defensive line played very well with Kobielus and (Nick) Gearhart, (Zac) McElrath –– those guys up front we're playin' really hard," Means praised. "And at the linebacker spots they played well, too. But our secondary's gotta cover them big dudes. I mean (Kennedy) has a couple six-five 'monsters out there (Thomas and Owens) that can catch the ball at any time. So you're always bitin' our nails 'cause when (Kennedy's) got the ball, you're like, 'Man, if they get the ball (pass) off, they can make somethin' happen. So the whole game was a little bit of anxiety there when (the Golden Eagles) had the ball."
MIDDLESEX 0 0 10 0 10
KENNEDY 0 0 0 0 0
WM — Safety (I.Smith tackles Thomas in end zone)
WM — Johnson, 6 run (Nehlen pass from Rea)
14 First downs 1
132 Rushing yards -42
73 Passing yards 11
10-5-0 Att-comp-int 14-5-0
205 Total yards -31
4-3 Fumbles-lost 4-1
8-83 Penalties-yards lost 6-39
Rushing: WEST MIDDLESEX — C.Smith 24-107, Tate 11-20, Rea 8-36, Johnson 4-6, Fair 2-3; KENNEDY CATHOLIC — Jordan 8-8, Young 1-(-3), Thomas 4-(-8), Ondo 4-(-27), Team 1-(-12).
Passing: WEST MIDDLESEX — Tate 10-5-0, 73; KENNEDY CATHOLIC — Ondo 14-5-0.
Receiving: WEST MIDDLESEX — C.Smith 4-76, I.Smith 1-(-3); KENNEDY CATHOLIC — Young 2-8, Thomas 1-19, Jordan 2-(-16).