Kent Is­land’s de­fense leads rout of Clip­pers

Record Observer - - Sports - By AY­MAN ALAM aalam@stardem.com

KI 35 — J.M. Ben­nett 0

SAL­IS­BURY — The Bay­side Con­fer­ence’s top football team has yet to hit its full stride of­fen­sively.

The de­fense, how­ever, is mak­ing that sit­u­a­tion some­what of a moot point, at least for now.

Kent Is­land High’s lat­est con­quest came in the form of a 35-0 drub­bing of James M. Ben­nett, Friday evening at Wi­comico County Sta­dium, as the Buc­ca­neers reached 6-0 and con­tin­ued pac­ing the Class 2A East Re­gion in play­off seed­ing.

The Bucs’ de­fense al­lowed a pal­try mi­nus 6 yards of­fense on 34 plays from scrim­mage by the Clip­pers (3-3), in­clud­ing a pair of first-half safeties, and never let Ben­nett mount any­thing re­sem­bling a sus­tained drive in a dom­i­nant per­for­mance.

“We’ve been do­ing it for years, but this year, they have re­ally stepped it up,” Bucs head coach Damian Fer­rag­amo said of the de­fense. “I think we lack the star power, but the guys are play­ing their as­sign­ment, they are trust­ing their team­mates.”

Kent Is­land’s of­fense, mean­while, was ser­vice­able, if un­spec­tac­u­lar.

Se­nior Braden Doyle paced the at­tack with 96 yards rush­ing on 14 car­ries, in­clud­ing touch­down runs of 41 and 10 yards, while classmate Austin Ryan tal­lied 66 on 14 tough runs, in­clud­ing a 6-yard TD that stretched Kent Is­land’s lead to 21-0 with 4 min­utes, 17 sec­onds re­main­ing in the third quar­ter.

As a unit, Kent Is­land racked up 332 yards to­tal of­fense on 60 plays, an av­er­age of 5.5 per snap, in­clud­ing 63 yards passing by ju­nior quar­ter­back Jor­dan Mar­ciano.

“We know it’s a team game, and we know, of­fen­sively, we have to put our de­fense in good spots,” Fer­rag­amo said.

It was the Bucs’ sec­ond game this week, last Friday’s date with Stephen De­catur get­ting moved to Mon­day due to the rainy weather. The of­fense got rolling af­ter the slug­gish start, and will have to stay on a roll as the sea­son hits its home stretch with Kent Is­land firmly in con­trol of its down destiny.

“We’re try­ing as hard as we can in prac­tice,” Mar­ciano said. “We have these things called loafs, and some­times when we don’t go 110 per­cent, it’s on game film, and we’ll do up-downs, as many loafs as we can.

“That’s been re­ally push­ing peo­ple, be­cause we re­ally do hate those,” Mar­ciano added. “We need to start go­ing harder and we need to score more points, and I’ll put that on me, I won’t put that on my team, be­cause I should be lead­ing them out there.”

Ben­nett’s only chance to score ar­rived on its first pos­ses­sion, as kicker Steve Os­car lined up for a 53-yard field goal near­ing the half­way mark of the open­ing pe­riod.

The ju­nior was stel­lar punt­ing the ball all evening, but the field-goal at­tempt was well short.

“We go hard and push all prac­tice,” Kent Is­land’s ju­nior de­fen­sive end Jor­dan Walker said. “We know that ev­ery game we go into, we’re go­ing to have that chance to win.”

Added ju­nior line­man Jeffery Kuebel: “In prac­tice we’ve been go­ing as hard we can, 110 per­cent. We pretty much wanted to stop them there, not give them any­thing, we just couldn’t let them be in the game, be­cause early in the game, we gave them the chance.”

The Bucs got on the board when se­nior place­kicker Bert Schre­con­gost nailed a 35-yarder with 10:05 left in the sec­ond quar­ter, cap­ping a drive that started on Kent Is­land’s 43. A 13-yard keeper by Mar­ciano and a 2-yard, fourth-down rum­ble by Ryan where he hur­dled a de­fender kept the drive in­tact be­fore Schre­con­gost’s boot.

It was 5-0 at the end of Ben­nett’s next drive, as a punt snap sailed over Os­car and out of the end zone for a safety. Bran­don Gal­loway pinned the Clip­pers on their own 5 fol­low­ing a Kent Is­land three-and-out, and two plays later, another Ben­nett snap went astray, this one elud­ing ju­nior quar­ter­back Joey Blake, who fell on it in the end zone for a sec­ond safety and a 7-0 Kent Is­land lead.

It was prob­a­bly not the way Fer­rag­amo wanted his team to go up a full score, but the end re­sults have rou­tinely left the Bucs on top.

“I don’t think we were be­ing re­ally ag­gres­sive up front,” Fer­rag­amo said. “They had a good scheme, they put peo­ple on the box and that’s what we were ex­pect­ing, but we just weren’t ex­e­cut­ing. It was slug­gish in the first half, but we were slug­gish in the sec­ond half, too. We just made a few big plays and hid the slug­gish­ness of the sec­ond half.

“That was the first twosafety game I’ve been a part of,” Fer­rag­amo added. “We were strug­gling, and we needed that.”

The points ar­rived in bunches there­after.

Doyle scored the game’s first touch­down with 5:04 left be­fore the break, mak­ing a 29-yard Gal­loway re­turn on a punt stand with a 41-yard burst through the mid­dle, cou­pling with Schre­con­gost’s kick to make it 14-0.

The score car­ried into half­time, Ben­nett’s poor of­fense and some ques­tion­able of­fi­ci­at­ing leav­ing the Clip­pers’ home­com­ing crowd irate and rest­less.

Ryan’s 6-yard score in the third pe­riod was sparked by another sen­sa­tional Gal­loway punt in­side Ben­nett’s 5; it was 28-0 early in the fourth on Doyle’s 10-yard scam­per, a drive buoyed by a 20-yard hookup by Mar­ciano and ju­nior wide­out Sean Mooney (4 catches, 46 yards) and a 31-yard Michael Scott run.

The scor­ing was capped on a Frank Ro­tondo carry, the se­nior full­back trig­ger­ing the run­ning clock with 1:59 left to play af­ter a 10yard TD run.

“It was a lit­tle dif­fi­cult man­ag­ing their car­ries to­day,” Fer­rag­amo said of the run­ning back corps, which in­cludes se­nior Cameron Bouie (12-37). “It was one of those days when the shifty back (Bouie) wasn’t the best op­tion. We needed the arm tack­les bro­ken, we needed Austin Ryan, and we needed the big play with Braden Doyle, be­cause he has the speed.

“I couldn’t tell who had the most car­ries,” Fer­rag­amo added. “I look at the down and dis­tance, and I put in the guy who I think is go­ing to be the best in that sit­u­a­tion. They are all just be­hind me wait­ing, and when they get their op­por­tu­nity, they know they have to make it count.”

Kent Is­land’s re­main­ing games are at home this Friday against Cam­bridgeSouth Dorch­ester, on the road at Eas­ton, be­fore home dates with Park­side and Queen Anne’s County, teams that have scored a com­bined 900 points (37.5 per game) and sport a com­bined 17-7 record.

The road to the 2A East play­offs is in­deed rugged, but not nearly as rough-and­tum­ble as the Buc­ca­neers’ de­fense, which has now yielded only 36 points all sea­son, and pitched shutouts in half the con­tests.

“If you look at our re­gion, there are still a bunch of teams vy­ing for po­si­tion,” Fer­rag­amo said. “We don’t have one of them yet, and we’re not go­ing to act like we do un­til we have math­e­mat­i­cally locked one up.

“We’re go­ing to try and keep the mo­men­tum go­ing and try and get the best seed we can,” Fer­rag­amo added. “We have a real tough con­test next week, and for the re­main­der, we’re play­ing play­off teams.” Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Ay­man_S­tarDem. Email me at aalam@stardem.com

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