Kent Island’s defense leads rout of Clippers
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 email@example.com