Kent Island football secures region’s top seed
Ryan leads the way on offense, defense, as unbeaten Bucs roll into date with county rival Lions
K. Island 35 — Parkside 7
STEVENSVILLE — So much for the Buccaneers taking a step back this season.
Kent Island High’s football team locked up the No. 1 seed in the Class 2A East Region playoffs with Friday evening’s workmanlike, 35-7 victory over Parkside, and can now turn its attention to the always ballyhooed matchup with Queen Anne’s County.
Not to mention start thinking about posting the second undefeated regular season in program history in a supposed “down year”.
“It would be a big accomplishment, because everybody was saying that this was going to be our down year,” Kent Island’s junior wideout/defensive back Sean Mooney said. “Some kids in our school even said it was going to be a down year, coaches around the Bayside said it’s going to be a down year, and we all just fought, worked out a lot in the offseason and came together and said, ‘It’s not going to be a down year, we’re going to be one of the best teams’.”
Added Bucs head coach Damian Ferragamo: “I think it’s obvious that we’re not going to scare anyone, we kind of win ugly, but it’s Week 9, and we are what we are, and we’re going to embrace it.”
Though the other seeds have yet to be decided in the region, Kent Island will host both 2A East playoff games should it advance past the opener in two weeks. Queen Anne’s (8-1) currently sits at second, followed by Elkton (8-1) and North Caroline (7-2). By virtue of MPSSAA points standings, the Lions can still tumble all the way to fourth place, while the Golden Elks and Bulldogs can move up with wins in favorable matchups with winless North East-Cecil and Colonel Richardson (4-4).
“It’s funny, because early in the season, early in camp, we had some of the worst practices we’ve ever seen, in all my years of coaching,” Ferragamo said. “We’ve gotten better as a team, but it was a product of being young in leadership roles, and they were just growing into their roles.
“It would be big,” Ferragamo added of possibly reaching 10-0. “because it means we’ve accomplished our goals each week, as coaches and as players.”
The dismantling of the Rams was methodical.
The only blips on Kent Island’s offensive ledger were a lost fumble by Braden Doyle on the game’s first play from scrimmage and two non-descript penalties. A 41-yard touchdown catch and run by Mooney off a Jordan Marciano toss was the highlight play of the game, while two-way senior standout Austin Ryan rushed for 108 yards on 12 carries and scored twice, and added a pick-6 in the fourth quarter. Senior Cameron Bouie also found paydirt on a 16-yard run, as the Bucs racked up 255 yards total offense on only 37 plays from scrimmage, nearly 7 yards per snap.
“We learned (after the Easton game last week), that we have to limit the turnovers,” Ryan said. “Turnovers lead to scores, and Easton’s only score was on a turnover and Parkside’s only score was on a turnover.”
Parkside was paced by Nayel Oge with 115 yards on 21 handoffs, while Terriq Bivens racked up 65 yards on 15 carries. The Rams’ lone score arrived with 7 minutes, 7 seconds remaining in the first, as Dajour Church capped a short drive following Doyle’s fumble with a 4-yard TD run up the middle.
The Bucs answered quickly.
After some patient running from Ryan and Doyle placed Kent Island on Parkside’s 41, Marciano located Mooney up the left sideline, and Mooney hauled in the tight spiral over Rams cornerbacks Trevin Vasquez and Rashan Evans. Bert Schrecongost missed the point-after, leaving the Rams up 7-6.
That lead was short-lived, as Parkside turned it over on downs on the next possession, Bivens getting stacked up by the line on the Rams’ 39. Ryan ripped a 27-yard run two plays later, and then finished the drive with a 9-yard rumble, dragging two defenders into the end zone to put Kent Island ahead to stay.
It was still 13-7 at the break, but the Rams found some life on the first drive of the second half when Oge dashed 34 yards up the right sideline before being tripped up by Michael Scott. Parkside worked the ball to Kent Island’s 28 on a series of short runs, but was stopped again on downs when Bivens fell short of the marker, handing it over to the Bucs on their 28 following a lengthy huddle by the officials, who made the call without a measurement.
The decision appeared to both unnerve and ultimately unravel the Rams.
Ryan jetted 45 yards on the next play, and Kent Island had another 15 tacked on following a late hit by Parkside. Doyle gained 10 on a carry to erase the sting of a holding penalty and Marciano found Mooney for 14 on third-and-10. Ryan scored from 4 yards out on the next snap, and Schrecongost split the uprights for a 20-7 lead.
The Bucs’ offense was humming again after an unsteady start to the game, not to mention mustering only 14 points against Easton in a 14-7, Week 8 win, when Kent Island was limited to 188 yards total offense, two Schrecongost field goals and a Doyle TD run.
“Easton was a good football team, and Parkside was a good football team, too,” Ferragamo said. “I know it was 35-7, but it was a lot closer than that.
A shanked punt by Parkside placed the Bucs on the Rams’ 38, and after Bouie was stopped on back-to-back runs, Marciano hit Selby Scaggs on a 12-yard strike on third down for a fresh set of plays. Bouie scored shortly thereafter, going 16 yards on the first play from scrimmage in the fourth.
Parkside turned it over on downs a final time despite a 37-yard heave by Andrew Smith to Raquon Hennigan, but the Bucs punted following three failed runs. A screen pass by Smith was
intercepted by Ryan on the next Rams snap; it ended with a 42-yard TD return, and a Scaggs to Zach Holden two-point conversion to cap the scoring.
“I was just going forward, and running back blocked me,” Ryan said. “I saw the screen coming, just ran out to the guy. It was a screen I read, and got lucky with it.”
Ferragamo was both coy and self-deprecating when asked if there is anything hidden up his sleeve as this Friday’s home date with the Lions approaches.
“I didn’t hear any talk about green and gold coming to this field, all this week,” said Ferragamo, referencing Queen Anne’s school colors. “We have the most competitive region in the state of Maryland, so
the four teams that make it, ever y game is going to be a coin flip.
“I’m not creative enough to have anything new, so we’re going to have our normal Monday practice,” Ferragamo added. “The practice plans are already made, we’re just going to change the name on the top and the game plan for the team coming in.”
Mooney echoed his coach’s sentiments. The Bucs have yielded only 64 points in nine games this season and have scored the second most points in the Bayside Conference behind high-octane CambridgeSouth Dorchester, a team Kent Island hung a 49-14 win on in Week 7.
Queen Anne’s will likely pose the team’s greatest challenge thus far in 2016. The Lions have allowed 100 points in nine games, second to the Bucs, and also sport a stellar, well-rounded
offense, having averaged 37 points an outing.
“I think we’re just going to stay focused and look to go 1-0 next week,” Mooney said. “Hopefully ever ybody stays focused, watches a lot of film and play our hearts out next week because Queen Anne’s is our big rival.”
Added Ryan: “We just got to step it up. This week in practice, we’ve just go to fly around and go hard.”
Notes: Kent Island has won four of the last five head-to-head meetings with Queen Anne’s, including the playoffs. The Lions had won the previous 10 . ... Parkside racked up 70 yards in penalties, the Bucs only 26 on three flags . ... Doyle intercepted Smith in the first half . ... Bouie had 24 yards on seven carries, and Marciano passed for 81 yards.
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